Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2246

Bombs aren’t the way to bring liberation in Libya

People have always paid a very high price to gain their freedom.

This is never due to a revolutionary zeal for martyrdom, but a sad consequence of the balance of forces between the people and their oppressors.

As socialists we have to acknowledge that real liberation and real change only comes from ordinary people—and as a Tunisian and an Arab, I have learned never to trust imperialist motives.

The mainstream media and our politicians portray intervention as the only option to stop Colonel Gaddafi murdering people in Libya.

If anyone voices any opposition they are faced with moral blackmail—what about the women and children dying under Gaddafi’s heavy fire? The rebels are doomed without our intervention, we are told.

The obscene irony is that these arguments are uttered by the same people who made Gaddafi a respectable ally and armed him with hundreds of millions pounds worth of deadly weapons over the last few years.

Some would dismiss this point as backward‑looking and inappropriate in the face of the massacres in Libya.

But unfortunately these are the same arguments we heard during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As socialists we need to look at the whole picture and refuse to be dragged into a logic that ignores the true causes of the tragedy and tries to bully everyone into cheering the bombings.

I am not a military expert, but I do not think that Nato intervention is the only solution.

The Libyan people have tens of billions of funds in Western banks that can be released to them to organise their fight against the dictator.

The first five days of the Libyan revolution administered massive blows to Gaddafi’s regime and split the army, with large sections joining the revolutionaries.

Since the talk of Western intervention started, this momentum has been broken.

Finally, it is understandable that the Libyan rebels, short of options, have called for the no‑fly zone.

Psychologically it is always easier to accept an uncertain greater hazard in the future than face it now, and we are in no position to denounce those whose dearest are facing death.

The best scenario would be that, after defeating Gaddafi, the Libyan people keep the imperialists at bay.

But even if this happens, for socialists the only politically viable position is to always refuse imperialist interventions wholesale.

Mohamed Tonsy, West London

Our battle against the Tory cuts

Birmingham City Council has declared war on users of social services.

The cabinet has raised the eligibilty criteria to meet only those needs that are at the highest, “critical” level.

And it gets worse.

The council will only provide these services to those who are of “low means”.

They want people to use their benefits to pay for services. They are putting more pressure on family, friends and neighbours to provide services for free.

Thousands of vulnerable and disabled people will be reassessed under the new criteria and see their services slashed or disappear altogether.

This is David Cameron’s “big society” in action.

If we want a caring society, we need a mass campaign of strikes, protests and civil disobedience to drive the

Con-Dems from office.

Unison union member, Birmingham

The Tories want to drive us back to the stone age.

They want to get people to see basic services such as education and healthcare as privileges.

The idea is that they are things we can have when times are good but not in a crisis.

But the system can always afford to provide them—if we take the money from the rich.

Sarah Blackwell, Sunderland

After the brilliant march in London, sections of the media are concentrating their ire on some of the damage done.

They don’t seem to realise that people are angry or that the Tories and their Liberal Democrat toadies are the real vandals.

It’s not us taking an axe to public services, schools or the health service.

The damage the government is doing is far more intensive and longer-lasting than a few busted windows or painted slogans.

We must keep up the pressure on these Tory vandals. We need regime change now!

Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire

We need to use clear arguments about war

After reading Alex Callinicos on whether the left should back the intervention in Libya (Socialist Worker, 2 April) I found myself thinking maybe they should!

Alex quoted left and right alike without rebutting their arguments.

He wrote that some on the left say that “intervention prevented a massacre in Benghazi. The sad fact is that massacres are a chronic feature of capitalism.

“The revolutionary left is, alas, too weak to stop them. Until we become stronger, we can at least offer political clarity about what’s at stake.”

A clearer argument in my view would be to ask people to look at Iraq or Afghanistan.

We should highlight Malalai Joya, an Afghan politician and a former elected member of the parliament, who wrote recently about how photos of murdered Afghans reveal the aggression and racism underpinning the occupation.

Or point out that prior to the “no-fly zone” in Libya, military units were coming over to the side of the revolutionaries.

This has now ceased—increasing the possibility of a long and bloody civil war.

If, as socialists think, Western intervention leads to a worsening of people’s lives, then we have a duty to spell it out. Sadly Alex failed to do that.

Salman Mirza, Birmingham

‘Free’ schools are robbing our cash

I can sympathise with Stephanie King’s positive remarks about Jamie Oliver’s Dream School show (Letters, 2 April).

I do think that Jamie is definitely rooting for ordinary kids to get a chance.

He really does believe that all young people have untapped potential, which is the starting point for most teachers as well.

But what is infuriating about this show is the ideological boost it gives to the Tories’ “Free schools” scam.

Free schools rob local comprehensives of much needed funds and cause havoc with their admissions policies.

Just in Hammersmith alone (and the neighbouring boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow) Toby Young’s West London Free School is producing parental panic.

Tens of millions of pounds are being handed to him just to acquire a building while all schools around his are facing cuts.

If Jamie denounced Toby then I really would applaud him!

But sadly he has claimed that he would consider running such a “Free” school if he had the time.

Nick Grant, West London

Emissions are not our fault

Britain emitted more carbon dioxide in 2010 and the media blames the cold winter.

They say we used more heating for our homes.

But the government should be insulating them properly! Do they want us to freeze?

Kate Leaper, Birmingham

Remembering Terry James

It is with tremendous sadness that I have just read about the untimely death of Terry James.

Terry, as Socialist Worker quite rightly said last week, was “one of the good guys”.

As a 19-year old student at Cardiff University, I attended my first demonstration in 1979 in protest at the killing of Blair Peach.

I remember, 32 years on, Terry speaking eloquently about police injustice outside the police station. I joined the SWP a week later.

I can’t believe that Terry will not share in the victories he has so surely contributed to.

Shine on, Terry.

Paul Vernell, Bristol

We waste so much energy

Another way we could meet our energy needs using renewables (Socialist Worker, 2 April) is not to produce so many useless products.

Lots of things are made that aren’t necessary for sustaining basic living standards.

For a start, just think of how much energy is wasted producing weapons and advertising.

Mark Gillespie, Queensland, Australia

Aren’t unions political too?

Thanks for your article on the EIS Scottish teachers’ union’s offer (Socialist Worker, 2 April). I too can’t believe the U-turn.

As a candidate for the Scottish elections I have been asked by teachers to give a voice to their frustrations.

My local constituency Labour Party has condemned the U-turn. Yet my union says I have no right to mix politics with union business.

This from a union with a political fund that attends political party conferences!

Colin Davidson, Fife

Forests are still for sale

For those who thought we’d won over forests, think again.

The government is to privatise a fifth of them over the next four years.

Time to start campaigning again.

Lisa Gray, Burnley

AV would help socialists

Of course socialists should vote for the alternative vote (Letters, 26 March).

It would make it a lot easier to stand socialist candidates without the risk of letting the Tories in by splitting the Labour vote.

Mark Taylor, South London

Let’s have a royal protest

What does Socialist Worker think we should do on the day of the royal wedding?

The lavish affair will be a slap in the face for all the people losing their jobs, benefits and services.

There will be lots of anger. Isn’t it the obvious time to call a protest or anti-royal event?

Rebecca Walsh, Swansea

AV—no more wasted votes

Kathryn Rimmington (Letters, 26 March) asks what attitude socialists should take to the alternative vote (AV) system.

I think it depends on whether you think the Labour Party ought to be unchallenged from the left.

As a former socialist election candidate and election agent, I would welcome AV.

Potential voters say they agree with us but we’d be a wasted vote.

AV would allow them to both vote socialist and for a bigger party.

Geoff Collier, by email

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Article information

Tue 5 Apr 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2246
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