Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2011

A memorial ceremony for Jean Charles de Menezes last Saturday was attended by Jean’s cousin Alex Pereira (right) and Mohammed Kahar (centre) who was shot in the police raid in Forest Gate (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A memorial ceremony for Jean Charles de Menezes last Saturday was attended by Jean’s cousin Alex Pereira (right) and Mohammed Kahar (centre) who was shot in the police raid in Forest Gate (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Jean Charles de Menezes: justice down the tube

So, it’s not possible to bring criminal charges over the case of Jean Charles de Menezes against any individuals? What about answers to the following questions: Who were the individuals involved in devising, approving and implementing the Met’s execution policy Kratos?

When and how did it receive judicial or parliamentary approval? If it received neither, are those responsible not guilty of conspiracy to commit murder at least?

Who are the unnamed individuals, or “sources” as the press and media describe them, that made unattributable lies to journalists? Are they not guilty of perverting the course of justice and obstructing the Independent Police Complaints Committee investigation?

Are the press, that allowed themselves to be used in a campaign of smearing Jean Charles de Menezes, not guilty of aiding and abetting? Are the officers that shot Jean, who made no effort to correct the lies being propagated by the media, not guilty of perverting the course of justice?

Are the press and media that propagated the lies about Jean not guilty of inaction by not asking the questions I have asked?

Tony Walker, Leeds

I have almost nothing in common with most Socialist Worker members, being a middle-aged, middle class, white, self-employed businessman living quite well in a pleasant rural village.

But I wish to share my anger at what is happening - or more to the point, not happening - in the de Menezes case.

How was it that I wasn’t surprised that nobody was going to be prosecuted for this combination of incompetence, tragedy and wickedness? Because it follows the pattern of all similar cases when our trigger-happy death squads go beserk on the streets.

It’s with trepidation that I go shopping in B&Q these days. What if I emerged carrying a newly-purchased hammer? I’d fully expect to be blown away with a dozen bullets in my head.

“It was a hammer? We thought it was a hand gun. Oh well, easy mistake to make.” And nobody would even be as much as slapped over the wrist.

Alan Williams, Somerset

The handling of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the failure to take action against the police officers involved, brings home the reality of what being “tough on terror” really means. I was particularly shocked by the response of London mayor Ken Livingstone who has implacably backed the police with, it seems, no concern about the fatal shooting of an innocent man.

In many respects Livingstone has been different to other politicians. He has stood firm against the war, he has a strong anti-racist record, and has consistently opposed Islamophobia.

It is tragic that Livingstone has chosen to come down on the side of Jean’s killers.

Richard Sunderland, Leeds

On state capitalism

Eugene McAteer (Letters, 22 July) is wrong to suggest that the “command economy” of Stalinist Russia would, with the addition of democracy, equate with socialism.

We recognise the nature of the Soviet Union’s economy as state capitalist because of its priorities - accumulation rather than consumption. Russia’s predicament was that it was isolated in a sea of hostile capitalist states, and the economy had to be geared to competing, economically and militarily, with the rest of the world.

Producing to meet the needs and wants of the people took a back seat, and this lies behind Russia’s lack of democracy.

To enforce these priorities, Stalin had to crush what remained of workers’ democracy, thus galvanising the bureaucracy as a new ruling class in the process.

The danger of Eugene’s argument is that it equates state ownership with socialism, seeing democracy as a desirable accompaniment. In contrast the theory of state capitalism allows us to reject such positions, in favour of a genuine, democratic and revolutionary alternative to the capitalisms of Washington and Stalinist Moscow.

Iain Taylor, South London

Eugene McAteer is right to point out that “states use military force to enforce compliance with the free market system and to remove regulations on the economy”. But this state aid for capitalism should not be confused with state capitalism itself.

Bolshevik theorist Nikolai Bukharin described how economic factors led to the increasing interdependence of the state and big business. The state used military means to further the interests of its national capital.

While these fusions of state and capital were referred to by Bukharin as state capitalist trusts, the process itself is capitalist imperialism.

In the International Socialist tradition, state capitalism refers to the most developed fusion of state and capital, that being the exploitative Stalinist system.

Jonny Jones, Swansea

McCombes’ principled stand over Sheridan

I need to correct and clarify some points made by Esme Choonara (Controversy as SSP officials testify in Sheridan case, 15 July) with regard to the Tommy Sheridan case.

The strategy of “non-compliance” was agreed at a National Council (NC) of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in December 2004, it was not Alan McCombes’ strategy. The NC agreed to keep the minutes confidential in order to protect Tommy.

The strategy of non-compliance did not end with Alan McCombes appearing in court recently. The SSP NC of 28 May 2006 voted by 82 to 67 to end this strategy and hand the minutes over to the Court of Session. Alan was opposed to complying with the court order and argued that the NC should have supported continued defiance and keeping the minutes confidential.

The minutes of the 4 November SSP executive committee (EC) are not disputed, as stated by Esme. The minutes were ratified at a subsequent EC unamended and unopposed.

The SSP EC in June voted that SSP members cited should tell the truth in court to avoid being held in contempt and thus face a potential prison sentence. Alan McCombes and Keith Baldessara were therefore carrying out agreed SSP policy.

No other strategy was put forward at this meeting on how those SSP members cited should conduct themselves in court.

Steve Hudson, Glasgow SSP (personal capacity)

I tried Old Labour

Angharad Rees believes that confronting New Labour with Old Labour ideals is the way forward for the left (Letters, 15 July).

When I was in the sixth form in the 1940s I was a communist. By the 1950s I made do with the Labour Party, which we believed we could move to the left.

In those days it seemed possible, though in practice the left lost every time.

It wasn’t until my children began to grow up that I heard of the SWP. My son joined but I argued that the working class is in the Labour Party and we must stay and help put the arguments to move it to the left.

It was the Miners’ Strike in 1984 that was the last straw for me. Although with others in the local Labour Party I worked hard on the miners’ behalf, many were disgusted by the behaviour of the leadership.

Neil Kinnock played the part of the impartial statesman and refused to back the miners.

How enjoyable it was to write my letter of resignation!

But that was over 20 years ago. It amazes me that anyone can still nurture a dream of moving Labour to the left.

Respect is not a flash in the pan. It is expanding fast. Young people are in the forefront. This is the future.

Muriel Hirsch, Crawley

The Zionist death squads

In Steven Spielberg’s film Munich we see how Golda Meir’s Israel stooped to gangster tactics sending out agents to assassinate her enemies.

Israel does not take the moral high ground - instead it continues this Mafioso style tit for tat killing right through to today.

If a Palestinian kills an Israeli, Israel Defence Forces F16 planes are dispatched to bomb refugee camps killing scores of men, women and children.

Similarly, in Nazi occupied Europe if the French resistance killed a German soldier, the Nazis would round up 20 French civilians and shoot them.

Today Israel holds the entire Lebanese nation hostage, simply because Hizbollah has kidnapped just two Israeli soldiers.

Sovereign nations do not have to behave so. When the IRA bombed Canary Wharf, the Nat West tower, Manchester and Warrington, RAF planes were not sent to slaughter hundreds of innocents and lay waste to the infrastructure and economy of Ireland.

Such policies will never bring peace for Israel or its neighbours.

Mark Holt, Chair, Merseyside Stop the War Coalition

How can they forget 1936?

Having just returned from Barcelona, I found the comments by Michael Eaude (The culture of revolt, 22 July) informative.

There are a host of tendencies to paint Catalan nationalism as either reactionary due to its support by big business, or as some sort of saviour against current and historical Castilian domination. Nationalism can always be two-edged.

What was really surprising was the minimal official references to 1936 in the city itself.

One might say that 1936 was not something the ruling classes wanted remembering, but some other countries at least advertise their “unpalatable” past, and then at least lie about it.

Eaude is absolutely right that Barcelona has unbelievable poverty only a few paces from the tourist thoroughfares.

The old Olympic area appears devoid of people, with the buildings being out of financial range for many. The tall backstreet tenements appear as an eyesore from the 19th century.

Ged Peck, Luton

Casualties of imperialism

You couldn’t get better evidence of how the US is “bogged down” in Iraq, as Alex Callinicos puts it (Reaching the limits of imperial power, 22 July), than reading the US army’s casualties statistics.

US troops die at a rate of more than one a day. By 19 July, it was 23 dead for this month alone, a fact not being given to us by the main media.

It is clear that we’ve reached a phase in the war, where we are only allowed to see Iraq in terms of more or less “sectarian” fighting.

In other words: “Is Johnny Foreigner learning our democracy or is he killing his brother?” Telling us about US casualties would shift the way people here would see what’s going on.

Michael Rosen, London

We need to sort out bullies

The action by postal workers at Oxford (Unofficial post strikes end in Oxfordshire, 22 July) should have been given the full support by other offices, but this was overshadowed by the talks on pay and kept hushed up.

Both these offices will now be hit by sanctions just like the Hampstead office was.

This just goes to show that bullying by management is widespread and is not isolated.

After unofficial action at my office, I was warned by senior management to keep my head down and keep out of the way. This was one piece of advice not to take note of.

Postal worker, London

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Sat 29 Jul 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2011
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