Casablanca's two cities
THE RECENT suicide bombings in Casablanca in Morocco were horrific and wrong. Attacks like this kill innocent people and do nothing at all to change the things those carrying them out are angry about. But we have to understand that people are right to be angry at the poverty and injustice in the world and offer an alternative which offers a real way to change things.
All of the people who carried out the bombings in Casablanca come from an area called Sidi Moumen. This is a shanty town where thousands of people are forced to live in the most desperate poverty. It is one of similar shanty towns which ring the city, like the one where I grew up in Morocco.
There are no proper water facilities or electricity supply. Homes there have no proper sewage facilities so people have to go to the toilet in a bucket and throw it in the street.
Unemployment is huge and growing. Across Morocco around one in three people have no job. We have doctors who are unemployed and many people who may have got a higher education who have no work. In poor areas like Sidi Moumen unemployment is even worse.
Morocco's rulers have opened to the world market in line with the policies pushed by the US and bodies like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. This has made things even worse for most people in Morocco over recent years as factories have closed.
Things are so bad that people try and escape, with people making the dangerous and desperate attempt to cross the Mediterranean in tiny boats. Last year over 1,000 Moroccans drowned trying to make this journey. Yet just round the corner from shanty towns like Sidi Moumen there is a completely different world, where Morocco's rich live.
Here there is every luxury you can imagine, well guarded villas with swimming pools. It is like going to a completely different planet. We have no real democracy in Morocco – the king has all the power. There are parties which stand in elections but you can hardly tell the difference between them. They are all corrupt, and nothing changes.
In this situation people can turn to religion as an answer, and some even to attacks like we saw. We have to understand why people feel like this, and offer a real way that can change things in this world, and so bring a free and equal society where the wealth of Morocco is used for all the people.
I HAVE just spent a few months out in India and Morocco. The tension and the strength of feeling is frightening. When the passport inspector discovered I was a British citizen on my way into Morocco his attitude turned to hostility.
I can understand the desperation people feel. The war on Iraq has pissed a lot of people off. What can people do? Politicians aren't listening. In India the right wing government is clamping down on different ethnic groups under the name of the so called war on terror. It's frightening what is going on.
Barry Donnan, Scotland
Nothing to lose but our chains
SOCIALIST Worker readers may like to know of my first act as newly elected Socialist Alliance councillor on Preston City Council. I voted against the installation of the new mayor at the council meeting on Thursday 15 May. This is the first time the mayor has not been appointed with unanimous support for many years.
I refused to vote for a mayor appointed by an agreement between the Tory and Labour parties. The new mayor is a Tory. His party were fully behind the recent war in Iraq and support the continuing occupation of that country by British and American troops.
I was elected as a socialist anti-war candidate. I would see it as a failure to represent my voters if I voted for a pro-war mayor. I also think the pomp and ceremony of the meeting means little to ordinary people in Preston. It is a relic of the past.
Every day people in Preston face a variety of problems like racism, poverty, inequality and unemployment. Yet the council, many dressed in funny ancient dress, acted like they were part of an old boys' club. No wonder so many refuse to vote for these people.
Councillor Michael Lavalette, Preston
Our strikes on rail a success
SOCIALIST WORKER was right to praise the success of the guards' strikes over safety. We faced enormous intimidation on some companies. But still we struck solidly. Nine companies struck at first, then three more joined. The action really united people. But we did face problems. Managers were training up to be used as scabs.
South West Trains, where activists were pushing for a reballot after the first strike vote was lost, was able to hire out managers to companies like Virgin to undermine our strikes. The train operating companies got government backing all along the line. I have no doubt they wanted to punish the RMT because it has been so outspoken in defending its members and criticising the government.
We did move to step up the action, but many people were worried about losing money. There are important lessons here about how to sustain action. On Virgin West Coast we were pleased our action got the companies to talk. It was a step forward when you consider how contemptuously they had treated us.
We are now waiting to see what comes out of the process. We are determined to take more action to defend our safety role if needed.
Guard, Virgin West Coast line
Why no pensions struggles here?
YOUR COVERAGE of the mass actions over pensions organised by French, Austrian and German unions is welcome. British pensions are much worse than in those countries. So why no struggle here? Western European unions have fought to keep privatisation out of their pension systems, whereas the TUC has done the opposite here.
This means the best the TUC does in the face of the collapse of our occupation pension system is to call for more tax breaks, and urge 'investor activism' but walk away from struggle over national insurance pensions.
Hugh Lowe, West London
Cambridge spies were wrong
WATCHING the recent BBC2 series brought home to me how wrong the 'Cambridge spies' were. They imagined that as counter-espionage agents writing for a pro-fascist newspaper about the Spanish Civil War, or getting introduced to the queen, they could help the cause of socialism.
They were really helping the enemy, however sincerely they may have hated fascism. Revolution can only come from below.
Muriel Hirsch, Crawley
Weapons are a form of nuclear
IT IS a widely held view that nuclear weapons haven't been used in anger since Japan towards the end of the Second World War. Nuclear weapons were used in the first Gulf War, the Balkans and recently in Iraq – depleted uranium shells.
These fragment upon impact and are responsible for death and deformities from radioactive contamination in current generations and those to be born.
Edward Davies, Stourbridge
New Labour not welcome
THERE HAS been much debate lately on whether the British Labour Party should organise and recruit in Northern Ireland. What surprises me is why anyone would want to join a party which has done nothing for the working class.
This summer the Labour government is hosting a meeting of European Union members to encourage the supply of military aid to Colombia, despite the fact that Colombia has one of the worst human rights records in the world. New Labour don't organise in Northern Ireland. I hope it stays that way.
Sean Smyth, Belfast
Should we get same wages?
DESCRIBING WHAT a socialist society would be, I have to ask what will be the incentive if everyone gets the same wage? The needs and abilities of people are different. I have studied for 20 years. Is it fair that I will be paid the same wage as another worker/official who does not have the same qualification?
Who is going to do the 'shit' jobs? How will the socialist society get rid of bureaucracy? What about human nature and greed? Will a community that believes in Islam for example be allowed to have its own mosques? Who will build the mosques? The Muslim community or society as a whole?
Nidhall Eddeym, by email
Be more clear over wealth
IN 'WHERE we stand' you define socialism as one where the working class has 'seized control of the wealth and plans its production and distribution'. By only talking about 'control' and 'plans' in respect of wealth only and not the means of producing wealth, you could just be advocating state capitalism – a working class state 'controlling' capitalism.
It would be far more clear and explicit if your objective was the common ownership of the means of production and distribution by the working class, production only taking place to meet need not profit.
In that way, you would be clear you were advocating the complete abolition of capitalist commodity production, rather than its nationalisation.
Andrew Northall, Kettering