Socialist Worker

The hopeful side of ‘human nature’

Issue No. 1933

The speed and scale of the generosity of millions around the world in response to the tsunami disaster has been astonishing. Stories are emerging all the time of the lengths ordinary people have gone to in showing their solidarity.

The response during the last two weeks is a major blow to the argument that a just and peaceful world is impossible because humans are innately selfish, greedy or only interested in “looking after number one”.

Increasing numbers of people—including many in the richest countries in the world—feel a strong need to stand up against injustice, oppression, war and poverty.

It’s that same spirit that has driven the movements against war and corporate globalisation. These movements have, in turn, given us a vision that the world could be different.

They show us that the way to get there is by working with others around the world who share that vision —wherever they come from and whatever their religion.

Collective action brings hope to those who want to reject both the aggressive individualism of the market and the lies that tell us our nature make it impossible to do so.

troops go in

Trying to reinvent the US war machine

SELFLESS CHARITY is unlikely to be uppermost in the minds of George Bush and Tony Blair as they belatedly respond to the tsunami disaster. Instead they see a chance to rehabilitate their reputations in countries where they are hated because of the war and occupation of Iraq.

They hope to rescue their image, particularly in Muslim countries, and to emphasise the importance of military involvement.

One former US ambassador to Indonesia called it “a huge opportunity for the president”.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country and has seen overwhelming opposition to the Iraq war.

Bush has dispatched thousands of marines to the area in a bid to give US forces a friendly face and put a humanitarian gloss on the military.

The international anti-war movement will know better. We must not let Bush and Blair cynically exploit the tragedy that has devastated the Indian Ocean countries to provide cover for their war machine, or to justify military interventions around the globe.

freedom of information

What’s embarrassing will still stay secret

OVER 50,000 previously secret government documents were released to the public this week as the Freedom of Information Act 2000 finally came into effect. People now have the right to request official information at any time—and have that information supplied.

However, some documents are exempt from the new act, including official legal advice. So we still won’t get to read the attorney general’s advice to Tony Blair over the legality of the Iraq war.

Blair has refused to release this advice, despite the widespread view that the war was illegal under international law. If the government is serious about freedom of information, it should lift the exemption and publish the attorney general’s verdict.

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What We Think
Sat 8 Jan 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1933
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