Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2287

Benefit process makes disabled people sick

Your front page on disability benefit claimants (Socialist Worker, 21 January) gave an accurate picture of the disgraceful treatment disabled people face.

The Tories act like they are giving benefits out like sweets. But disabled people already have to prove—through a very arduous and humiliating process—that they need their benefits.

The whole process is off-putting and traumatising. It is designed to trick you and trip you up. We are being put into a process that makes us more ill.

And the benefits available don’t match people’s needs. I have chronic fatigue syndrome (ME). This means that my ability to be mobile is extremely unpredictable.

Around £40 of my weekly benefit is for care. What’s that going to buy?

I have a home help who comes once a month. I have to pay for that out of my benefits. I can’t bear to think about what it would mean if I lost my disability living allowance.

The government gives the impression that we are lying about our illnesses. But the value of the benefits is low. Why would anyone go through this process for such a tiny amount of money?

I want to appeal to the PCS union to include calls for dignity for disability benefit claimants in its strike demands. Workers who administer the benefits should unite with us against the government.

Disability charities need to stop colluding with the government. They have met ministers to discuss “reforming” benefits—and that has had an impact on resistance.

Some disability charities are too quick to believe the government’s lies. I’ve had people from some charities saying that the reforms could help disabled people get back to work.

But it’s sickening that David Cameron is saying the reforms are about helping disabled people.

The reforms are geared towards getting people off benefits and into tin-pot employment schemes. They are about making us pay ideologically as well as financially.

The government wants to blame disabled people—along with public sector workers, unemployed people and others—for the deficit.

But disabled people didn’t cause the deficit. And we will not pay for it.

Nicola Field, South London

Why the US did not win in Iraq

The letter arguing that the invasion of Iraq resulted in a US victory (Socialist Worker, 14 January) reflects a pessimism in sections of the left. It seriously misunderstands the nature of global imperialism.

After 1945 the US’s economic predominance allowed it to manage the Middle East through relationships with local dictators.

Where these failed, Israel could be relied upon to humiliate challengers by military means.

This strategy began to unravel during the Iranian revolution in 1979. The overthrow of the Shah of Iran showed that even the most powerful local ruler could be ousted. The US switched to an increasingly hawkish strategy.

The US backed Iraq in a war against Iran in the 1980s. The Iraqi regime believed it had a green light to do as it pleased and invaded the US ally Kuwait.

The US responded by invading Iraq—in a messy compromise between hawkish posturing and returning to an older system of reliance on compliant local powers.

The second US invasion in 2003 was supposed to resolve this and set out a new framework for ensuring US predominance.

Instead the Middle East has gone into meltdown.

Iran has emerged as a key power, creating panic among Arab ruling classes, and the US is seen as weak.

The US is locked into a pattern of calling for calm and then trying to make friends with whoever looks likely to be in power.

Occasionally it has successes, as in Libya.

But it can’t be sure what pattern of relationships will exist in the future.

US allies have begun to ask whether they should take more independent action to secure their interests in the region.

We need analyses that tie together an understanding of the crisis of the capitalist system with the crisis of geopolitics—a Marxist theory of imperialism.

Otherwise we run the risk of regurgitating the paranoid fantasies and nightmares of our rulers.

John Game, Central London

The rich are waging war with US piracy act

According to Frederick Engels, Karl Marx became a passionate communist and moved to active politics partly because of the law on the woods.

Some 97 percent of court cases around Marx’s hometown of Trier, Germany, in the 1830s were prosecutions of people who had gathered fallen wood from local forests.

Their traditional right to treat the forest as commons had been made illegal.

In the 18th century landowners in Britain also stole common land. Those who resisted were often transported to Australia.

In 2009 Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win a Nobel prize for economics.

She showed that commons are a democratic, ecological and efficient alternative to private ownership.

The US’s Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) threatens to closed down entire websites internationally if they are accused of carrying material that US corporations don’t like.

The enclosure of the world wide web is part of a war of the rich and powerful against the rest of humanity. We must fight it.

Democratic ownership of the means of production is the communism that Marx advocated. A society owned by humanity is possible if we fight for it.

Derek Wall, Berkshire

Socialists unite for independence

I would like to see the formation of an organisation called Socialists for Self-Determination.

I am sick of the debate on Scottish self-determination being dominated by nationalists and unionists.

I believe people who live in Scotland should determine how they should be governed.

This is not because I believe in some abstract nationalist notion of Scotland. It’s because as a socialist I believe in power to the people.

I want socialists living in Scotland to put aside all party bickering, personality clashes and grudges.

I want them to put a case for independence that is based on people’s right to determine their lives.

The biggest plea of all goes to people like me. I have long been disillusioned with all party politics. But I’ve never lost hope that one day we might live in a land that is based on love, liberty and equality.

Let’s stop settling for second best. At worst, we will go down fighting with our heads held high and at best we just might change the whole world.

Now that is something worth fighting for!

Stuart Pryde, Kirkcaldy

Press ignored Nigeria strike

Thanks for Baba Aye’s brilliant reports on the general strike in Nigeria (Socialist Worker, 21 January).

The mainstream press talked about the price of oil going up because the Nigerian government had abolished fuel subsidies.

But there was not a word about the strike!

Mike Beaken, Sheffield

United battle was inspiring

Your article on the Bread and Roses strike (Socialist Worker, 7 January) definitely shed more light on the event.

The strike was fabulously well organised.

It brought tears to my eyes to see how workers from so many different nationalities could get united at the beginning of the 20th century.

This sometimes seems impossible to achieve nowadays in Portugal in the 21st century!

Claudia Martins, Braganca, Portugal

Killing royals is not a joke

Socialist Worker is right in its consistent, unequivocal criticism of the monarchy.

But jokes about killing the royal family (Socialist Worker, 21 January) do not serve a political purpose.

Support for the monarchy is high among all social classes. It would be a shame if this joke put off a first time reader.

I don’t think Socialist Worker would have made a similar joke about the Pope due to the deep attachment of sections of workers to the Catholic church.

Hanif Leylabi, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Capitalism can’t be moral

David Cameron argued for so-called “moral capitalism” last week.

It’s clear he’s unfamiliar with the old folk saying which insists, “You can’t polish a turd.”

Sasha Simic, Hackney

Labour won’t get my money

I have written to my union and asked for a form to cancel the political levy I pay.

I think all trade unionists should do likewise.

Our party has been stolen by right wing career politicians who care nothing for socialism and do nothing to promote a fairer, more equal society.

Roy Henderson, Hampshire

We can make a revolution

The Twenty fifth of January will be the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution.

Last January was only act one of the revolution. It has now turned to workplaces and taken on a more social character.

The end result is uncertain. But no more can we be told revolution is not possible.

Matt Hale, Manchester

Our tradition of anti-racism

Your article on anti-racist campaigning in south east London (Socialist Worker, 14 January) is welcome.

However I do not feel it represents the extent to which Gacara (Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Attacks) were at the centre of the campaigns.

Gacara was the central coordinator of campaigns for justice following the racist murders of Rolan Adams and Rohit Duggal.

We mobilised one of the biggest marches in Britain to speak out against the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and worked jointly with the Anti Nazi League to agree the route.

These actions would not have happened without the work done by Gacara, who provided the platform for local and national organisations and groups.

Today Equa-Ed, the Equality and Education Project, works to support victims of racist abuse in the borough.

Dev Barrah, Equa-Ed

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Article information

Tue 24 Jan 2012, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2287
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