Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1969

Protesting against the police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Protesting against the police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Young, angry and black

It was great to read US activist Manning Marable’s article exposing the deep racism in the US in relation to the New Orleans disaster (The US is 'racist to the core', 17 September).

George Bush’s inability to help the black and the poor in New Orleans has sparked huge amount of anger both here and in the US.

The US system has contempt for the black working class.

But the US isn’t isolated in this approach to the urban poor. The situation that black people in the US are in raises many uncomfortable questions about the condition of black people in Britain.

Even though Britain isn’t as obviously segregated as the US, there are still massive issues facing the black community.

Even in as multi-cultural and diverse a city as London, black people are still more likely to be stopped and searched, they are more likely to be in the worst paid jobs, in the worst housing and facing racism in virtually every institution.

But instead of challenging the institutional racism that we face, the so-called leaders of the black community fall into a blaming the victim mentality. They put too much emphasis on “black culture” to explain problems and work with the authorities to scapegoat young black people. This leaves many black people without clear leadership.

Following this strategy is one of the reasons that black people in the US are where they are today. Instead of this, we need a united fight of black and white against the racist system that keeps us all down.

Kerri Parke, East London

Death squads are US trademarks

While Last week’s bomb attacks in Baghdad were horrific in their scale and impact, the less dramatic massacre of 17 men in the town of Taji was part of a distinct, though equally frightening pattern of violence gripping Iraq.

In Taji the victims were taken from their homes before dawn, handcuffed, blindfolded and shot. The killers wore Iraqi army uniforms and arrived in military vehicles.

Such execution-style killings have become systematic in Iraq over the last year.

For example, two weeks ago, the bodies of 18 execution victims were discovered in Iskandariyah after being detained by men dressed as the Iraqi National Guard.

In early August the tortured bodies of another 12 men were dumped in Baghdad’s southern Maalif neighbourhood after being arrested by men in police uniforms.

Typically brushed off by government spokesmen as the work of insurgents or simply “excused” as sectarian violence, no serious investigations have taken place to date within Iraq.

The only journalist, Yasser Salihee, to highlight these killings was killed by a US army sniper on 24 June.

Those aware that Iraq’s new counter-insurgency battalions, notably the police commandos, received their training from the likes of former US army colonel James Steele, who collaborated in El Salvador’s dirty civil war, might see these massacres as little more than business as usual for US strategists.

For more information, please visit

Max Fuller, Brecon, Powys

A radical US tradition continues

It was a great pleasure to hear George Galloway address a packed Faneuil Hall in Boston, US, on Tuesday of last week. The event was the start of his US tour. He is also promoting his new book, Mr Galloway Goes To Washington.

George Galloway’s oratorical skills and powerful message evoked enthusiastic responses from members of his audience including standing ovations.

As a British citizen and Respect member, resident in Massachusetts, I was proud to hear our MP speaking eloquently and forcefully against war and occupation and to promote peace, equality and justice.

Faneuil Hall was an appropriate venue. Known as the “Cradle of Liberty”, it has been a forum for the debate of local and national issues since the 18th century. The taxation policies of the British empire were discussed there and Faneuil Hall became the focus of revolutionary activity in Boston.

In the 19th century anti-slavery advocates held rallies and there were large gatherings to debate women’s suffrage. The tradition continues as people in Boston campaign with international peace movements against war and occupation.

Rita Jackson, Holliston, US

Australian government hypocrites

Another sign of the repressive nature of the “coalition of the willing” appeared last week.

The right wing Australian government of John Howard deported the US peace activist and teacher Scott Parkin.

Scott’s only crimes were to campaign against the US multinational Halliburton which profits from the war in Iraq, and conduct workshops in Australia on direct action.

Australian security forces claimed they were concerned about “politically motivated violence, including violent protest activity” and arrested Scott. And Australia is one of the states occupying Iraq to supposedly bring “freedom”.

Sandra David, by e-mail

Change comes from outside parliament

Colin Littlejohn asserts that Labour won the election in 1945 “leading to the socialist transformation of British society” (Letters, 10 September) and disputes Chris Nineham’s argument that the state cannot be used to transform society.

But major transformation was happening in Britain after the Second World War outside of parliament and before any election. The landslide Labour election was a part of this moment — it did not cause it.

It was the working class that forced the establishment to concede some gains to it. The Tory Quintin Hogg, later Lord Hailsham said, “If we don’t give the people reform they will give us revolution.”

An election held in the tide of such forces will be in favour of the party which appears to fulfil the aspiration of the movement.

The ruling class are ruthless and organised.

They are not stupid enough to leave their power in an institution where well-meaning politicians can legislate away their privilege.

Their power remains, whoever is elected, with the armed forces, the banks, the financial institutions and the media.

No politicians can challenge this power alone. We can use parliament to voice support and help build a movement — but the power remains outside.

Parliament is part of the capitalist system and must not be relied upon.

Heather Falconer, Pembrokeshire

Blue Monday has a Domino effect

Martin Smith is absolutely right (New Orleans: melting pot for the soundtrack of the century, 17 September) to celebrate the work of US singer Fats Domino.

But he doesn’t mention Fats Domino’s greatest song — Blue Monday, a title later stolen by New Order for a far inferior piece.

The words go far beyond normal rock and roll themes to hard-core class consciousness.

The song’s lyrics are, “Blue Monday how I hate Blue Monday/Got to work like a slave all day/Here come Tuesday, oh hard Tuesday/I’m so tired got no time to play.

“Here come Wednesday, I’m beat to my socks/My gal calls, got to tell her that I’m out/’Cause Thursday is a hard workin’ day/And Friday I get my pay.

“Saturday mornin’, oh Saturday mornin’/All my tiredness has gone away/Got my money and my honey/And I’m out on the stand to play.

“Sunday mornin’ I’m feelin’ bad/But it’s worth it for the time that I had/But I’ve got to get my rest/’Cause Monday is a mess.”

 If anyone asks you what Karl Marx meant by alienation, play that record to them.

Curtis McNally, North London

I need some history help

As a Socialist Worker supporter in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Hull, I was an active member of Rock Against Racism and the Anti Nazi League.

Now I am writing a catalogue to accompany an exhibition of Hull Rock Against Racism posters from that period which is part of an anti-slavery project in the town.

To do this I need information about the beginnings of Rock Against Racism and the Anti Nazi League, so I would be massively grateful if you or your readers could point me in the right direction.

Richard Lees, E-mail [email protected]

Which number is accurate?

The Independent newspaper reported a while ago that the number of people killed during the Iraq war so far was 24,000, yet the number Socialist Worker refers to is over 100,000.

Please could you explain why there is this wide discrepancy and what evidence there is supporting the higher claim.

What evidence is there that the Independent’s number is more accurate?

P Allerton, Aberystwyth

Drinking can be creative

The debate over the pros and cons of alcohol is an interesting one, but it is clear that all your correspondents see binge drinking as a product of alienation.

The issue seems to be is getting trashed out of your brains ever a productive way to oppose the ruling ideas of our age?

I would argue that it is because, for all their negative properties, alcohol and other substances enable the individual to think and act in ways which are unthinkable when we are sober and inhibited.

Great literary dissenters such as de Quincey and Baudelaire used opium and booze as tools to explore their minds and their surroundings with more spontaneity than would otherwise be possible.

I would strongly urge people to read Guy Debord’s Panegyric — a potent mix of revolutionary politics and alcoholism by one of the great Situationist thinkers of our time.

Robert Holman, North London

Defend our civil liberties

There was a very successful and inspiring meeting of Calderdale Against the War in Halifax on Wednesday of last week.

There was a mixed audience of nearly 70.

Speakers included Chris Nineham from Stop the War, Peter Brierley whose son was killed in Iraq, Labour MP for Halifax Linda Riordan and Nabeela Azhar from Leeds Stop the War Coalition.

Foremost among the messages which every speaker conveyed was a call to defend our civil liberties.

Every speaker urged people to attend the London demonstration this Saturday.

We must make this demonstration so big that we cannot be ignored.

Daniel Russell, Halifax

SW helps me participate

For two weeks I have been deprived from reading the pertinent articles from your newspaper.

I have been moved from HMP Doncaster. Socialist Worker hasn’t followed me.

I can’t wait to read Socialist Worker since being in jail will prevent me from taking part in the more practical fight like this Saturday’s anti-war demonstration.

I like the perspective on the past with articles about Gramsci, Sartre and Mao, and the paper’s analysis on the shoot to kill policy and the free market regime.

Carry on with building Respect and calling for a mass movement involving workers and anti-capitalists.

If I had a criticism it would be you need to call more for mobilising the unemployed.

Bravo for the strikes coverage.

Loic Barbarin, HMP Wolds

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Sat 24 Sep 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1969
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