Scots bowl Israel out
In Scotland, we delivered three blows against the Israeli assault on Lebanon and Palestine last week. The first was when almost 250 people turned out for a protest called by Glasgow Stop the War and the Lebanese community at Prestwick airport on Sunday of last week.
This was against two US flights which were given permission to land and refuel on their way to transport weapons to feed Israel’s murder of Lebanese children. The foyer of the main terminal was occupied for an hour as passengers boarded at the check-in desks. Our chants were received with cheers by the passengers.
Our protest continued outside the main doors when the announcement arrived that both flights would not land at all and were diverted to England. It was later reported that no more flights would pass through civilian airports. Our first victory had been scored.
Protesters have also been opposing the Israeli cricket team’s involvement in an international tournament being hosted in Glasgow. The police changed the venue for all of Israel’s matches.
Our slogan was, “Justifying Israeli terror - it’s just not cricket!” We argued that their team should not be afforded the legitimacy of competing in international sporting events. Some 200 people came to a vigil in Glasgow.
The anger expressed on these demonstrations must have jolted someone. The following day we got word that Israel’s first match had been cancelled due to “security concerns”. The Edinburgh’s International Film Festival has also returned funding given to them by the Israeli embassy. Israel 0 Protesters 3!
Last Saturday saw up to 150 people protest against Israeli cricketers playing the Norwegian team. They were protected by hundreds of police. Chants of “Stop the cricket, stop the war” echoed across the pitch. We are now building for the Scotland anti-war protest this Saturday 12 August in Edinburgh.
Raymie Kiernan, Glasgow
Get a great theatre offer with SW
The Feet and Fingers theatre group is performing The China Vase at the Zoo Theatre at the Edinburgh festival fringe until 28 August.
For more details go to www.edfringe.com
The play looks at Britain’s role in imperialist wars from the First World War to Iraq.
The space for political theatre is constantly being chipped away at, as funding bodies and theatres follow the mantra of non-political “community” activities.
We want to expand and defend the space for challenging theatre and are offering a £1 reduction at The Zoo box office to anyone who can show a copy of Socialist Worker.
Bernie Kavanagh, Dorset
Read Leon Trotsky on Spain
In his article on the Spanish Civil War (Fighting the fascists, creating a new world in Spain, 22 July) Andy Durgan wrote that, “only the small revolutionary socialist party, the Poum, posed an alternative” revolutionary strategy to that of the Popular Front.
However, Andy Durgan does not explain why such a party did not succeed in winning over a majority of the working class in spite of its supposedly revolutionary policies and proposals.
The answer is given by the exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky who, writing as the revolution in Spain was unfolding, had a very different understanding of the role of the Poum in the revolution.
Trotsky said, “Instead of mobilising the masses against the reformist leaders, including the anarchists, the Poum tried to convince these gentlemen of the superiorities of socialism over capitalism.
“This tuning fork gave the pitch to all the articles and speeches of the Poum leaders.
“In order not to quarrel with the anarchist leaders, they did not form their own nuclei inside the CNT [anarchist union].
“To avoid sharp conflicts, they did not carry on revolutionary work in the republican army.
“By isolating the revolutionary vanguard from the class, the Poum rendered the vanguard impotent and left the class without leadership.
“Politically the Poum remained throughout far closer to the Popular Front, for whose left wing it provided the cover, than to Bolshevism.
“That the Poum nevertheless fell victim to bloody and base repressions was due to the failure of the Popular Front to fulfil its mission, namely to stifle the socialist revolution - except by cutting off, piece by piece, its own left flank.
“Contrary to its own intentions, the Poum proved to be, in the final analysis, the chief obstacle on the road to the creation of a revolutionary party.”
Pablo Roldan, South London
The final victory of Sakchai Makao
There was great news from the Sakchai Makao campaign recently. The home office is not to appeal against the decision of an immigration tribunal which ruled that Sakchai could stay in Scotland.
The government had snatched Sakchai and threatened to deport him to Thailand as part of its scapegoating of “foreign criminals”.
Almost 10,000 signatures were collected in support of his case and hundreds of people attended protests.
Sakchai has been living in Shetland since he was ten when his mother Kesorn took up a job in the isles.
He is now a pool attendant at the Clickimin Leisure complex.
In 2004, he served eight months of a 15 months sentence for setting fire to a portakabin and a car.
His friends say that this was completely out of character.
After the home office’s decision Sakchai said, “I feel closer to the Shetland community than ever before. They helped me a lot in this and I am very grateful for all their hard work.”
This case highlights that the government will go to extreme lengths to show it is cracking down on “foreign criminals”.
But it also shows that ordinary people can see through its lies and mobilise on an unprecedented scale to stop these kind of injustices.
Katherine Branney, East London
Jacob Secker (Letters, 5 August) is right to note the monumental expansion in Russian industry under Stalin’s rule, but is wrong to suggest that this heralded an advance in the living standards of ordinary people.
The Soviet Union was not socialism. An analysis of Russian five-year economic plans will bear out the subordination of consumption to accumulation.
It was the pressure of world capitalism that necessitated this accumulation.
The alternative posited by the leaders of the revolution, Lenin in particular, was internationalism - which Jacob derides as “Disneyland” socialism.
Lenin rightly insisted that the October Revolution was doomed if it did not spread, and urged socialists in the rest of the world to hasten the spread of the revolution.
The counter-revolution that Lenin feared came in the form of Stalin’s “socialism in one country”, a theory that turned its back on internationalism.
This led Stalin to liquidate the old guard of the Bolshevik Party, thus cementing the role of the bureaucracy as a new ruling class.
Now, in an era of internationally integrated capitalism, with workers’ struggle erupting in vast regions of the world, fostering a spirit of international solidarity has never been more vital.
Iain Taylor, South East London
Who is the rogue state?
Israel is demonstrating in Lebanon to the US how dangerous “rogue” states approaching nuclear capability should be dealt with.
The US will give its support in the hope that the demonstration will lesson the likelihood of it having to do the real thing in Iran.
Other nuclear powers, though embarrassed by the slaughter of innocents, have no wish to see further nuclear proliferation. If everyone has the bomb, your own bomb no longer makes you special.
Will Brown, Bristol
It’s too hot for workers
The weather this summer has made it too hot to work outside. I work in the council’s parks department in West Dunbartonshire.
The bosses say that we can’t wear shorts because of health and safety.
They have air conditioning and water available to them. But the poor guy in the street just has to press on. In other countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia the workers can wear shorts.
It is like a Dickens era workhouse.
Paul Raship, Clydebank
A political reunion
Campaigners from the 1980s recently held a reunion in Swansea.
The event was organised to remember the local People’s March for Jobs, the Jobs Not Bombs CND march and the 300 mile Right To Work march from Port Talbot to the Tory conference in Brighton in 1980.
Some 50 activists came along - many meeting for the first time in over 20 years.
There was a screening of the film The Road to Brighton Pier, which tells the story of the 1980 march.
There were a lot of memories of how the marches built unity between trade unionists and the unemployed in the face of a vicious campaign by the bosses and the Tories.
As we prepare to march on New Labour’s Manchester conference in September, we can take that spirit of defiance forward for a new generation.
Jon Flaig, Margate
PCS DWP will still struggle
There was one important inaccuracy in Socialist Worker’s (Department for Work and Pensions anger at deal recommendation, 5 August) report on the PCS Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) jobs rights and services campaign.
PCS group executive member Dave Owens is quoted as saying that PCS members in DWP would be taken out of any civil service wide action against the threat of redundancies if the group executive recommendation is carried.
Dave was on holiday when the group executive met. I was at the meeting where it was in fact made clear that the DWP membership will be included in any ballot.
This is important because for many group executive members the need to prepare for civil service wide action was in our minds when we reached this decision.
Martin John, Sheffield
An example for journalists
Two journalists in Amman, Jordan, have resigned from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News in protest at its coverage of Israel’s attack on Lebanon.
Serene Sabbagh and Jomana Karadsheh wrote to Fox News, “Not only are you an instrument of the Bush White House, and Israeli propaganda, you are warmongers with no sense of decency, nor professionalism.
“[Your] disdain and blatant one-sided coverage of all Middle East conflicts only highlights your total lack of humanity and bias toward Israel.”
If every journalist showed such moral fortitude and refused to work for news outlets like Fox we would be a lot closer to justice in this world.
Simone Murray, Carlisle