Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2361

Syria’s troubled revolution lives on despite the defeats

The victory of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s forces in the town of Qusair, and their brutal assault on the people of the largest city Aleppo, are an enormous setback to the Syrian uprising.

But it does not mean the end, as Dave Gardner suggests (Letters, 6 June).

Two years of courageous struggle against oppression have seen 100,000 people killed, 1.6 million forced to leave the country and over four million displaced into refugee camps.

And outside interventions have complicated the revolution.

Even some on the left have held up Assad as anti-imperialist. And it has been very distressing to see Hizbollah—an organisation that has stood up to oppression and imperialism—send troops to attack rebels and defend a dictator.

Iran also backs Assad. And Western-backed dictatorships such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have intervened on the other side. These hypocrites have their own agendas—of trying to weaken Iran, and to pacify the Arab Spring for business and western imperialism.

Assad and his allies characterise the rebels as Sunni Islamic extremism. And it suits the west to portray Iran as Shiite Islamic extremism in turn.

But to ascribe the uprising to religious tension does a disservice to the genuine grievances of the masses. Jihadists are involved, but they are not the driving force.

The power of workers was decisive in Egypt. But Syria’s revolution doesn’t have a strong workers’ movement at its heart. 

This means that forces such as the Free Syrian Army are more liable to be pulled or coopted.

But defeats in key towns are not the same as complete destruction. The revolutionary fervour has not gone away.

Recent events in Egypt remind us that the Middle East is still in turmoil. That can lead to further explosions of anger from below that can sweep away any regime.

Talat AhmedEdinburgh

Capitalism is a crime

Socialist Worker’s science column recently asked “are criminals born or made?” (Socialist Worker, 15 June).

Criminals are made by the circumstances we are born into. Austerity and unemployment blight our communities.

The costs of energy, food and other means of survival are spiralling out of control. No wonder people turn to crime. 

And who pays the price? It is easier to break into a small flat than Buckingham Palace.

Ordinary people go to prison. But warmongers like Tony Blair, corrupt cops and bosses of energy firms that rob the poor all go unpunished.

Charlie DowthwaiteLancashire

Contempt for the sick

I started work at a supermarket after three years on Employment Support Allowance.

After a week I went off sick with stress and depression. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not acceptable.

When I didn’t improve within four days I visited a GP who refused to sign me off for more than a week.

Is it any wonder that people on long-term sickness are unwilling to take the chance on work when their health may fail again and they face the prospect of being without income?

Sean AlexanderHolyhead

We won’t let workfare barons push us around

I and some other angry claimants scored a victory over workfare bosses.

We were called into a work programme registration session—and spent an hour arguing about travel expenses.

We were so disruptive it had to be postponed. 

One manager paid our bus fares out of her own pocket to get rid of us!

Claimants need to know their rights. Many fear that if they don’t do exactly what workfare bosses tell them, they’ll have their dole removed.

But they can’t be sanctioned for not signing forms that allow the company to pass their CV and details to prospective “employers” such as Marks & Spencer.

At my next meeting I’ll show people which forms they don’t have to sign.

But I’ll also tell them to get down to the next PCS protest or strike to make links with job centre workers.

Richard DonnellyWest London

Don’t condemn violence of ‘both sides’

I agree with David Hurst that violence is nothing to be celebrated (Letters, 22 June). But I disagree with his condemnation of the men who prepared to attack the racist English Defence League (EDL).

We can’t have an “even handed” attitude and condemn “both sides”, because the playing field is not level.

The EDL is the spearhead of a massive and sustained attack on Muslims. The most powerful forces in our society push Islamophobia. 

It is broadcast in the media. It is used to justify horrific wars. This racism has caused much violence  against Muslims and others.

The EDL organises around the kind of beliefs that underpinned the murder of 10 million people under Adolf Hitler.

The men who planned violence against it were acting in response to a much greater violence. We do not condemn them, but the racism they were desperately trying to stop.

Stopping the EDL will take workers’ unity and mass activity on the street—and individual acts of violence simply cannot achieve this.

But socialists stand with all those who want to fight back against the obscenity of fascism, even if they look to other tactics. 


They haven’t got a clue

Politicians have never felt sharp reality. Life is just a game on that kind of money.

It’s not a rational debate in parliament. They can’t cut their way out of crisis or spend their way out. The whole system needs to change.

If we don’t pull those hammy dodgers off stage soon then we’re all going down with them.

SteveSouth Wales

Freud thinks we’re fools

This ridiculous Lord Freud says that the rise of food banks is not linked to benefit cuts.

Does he think we’re stupid? What does he think it is—a lifestyle choice?

The need for food banks is rising in my area. People are even stealing groceries.

Natasha MunozEast London

Real reason for the cuts

I like many others turned out to support the teachers’ strike. Why is the government attacking public services?

Their own economists say the economy is too fragile to withstand hack and slash deficit cutting.

I always think of what Tony Benn said—“an educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.”

Alex GreenwoodPreston

Heads must roll at the Met

Given the revelations about the Met Police attempting to smear the Lawrence family, is it now time for Paul Condon to be stripped of his knighthood and pension? Either he was grossly incompetent or he covered up wrong doing by senior officers. 

Ross SuttonReading

It’s the great Dalek robbery

The BBC only gave Raymond Cusick a staff cheque when he designed the iconic Daleks. He died this year, having seen none of the millions his Daleks made.

Sean AlexanderHolyhead

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Article information

Tue 9 Jul 2013, 18:32 BST
Issue No. 2361
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