Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2026

Is the free market riding the world to destruction? (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Is the free market riding the world to destruction? (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Is the market a solution?

There was little to fault in Socialist Worker’s coverage of the Stern report on climate change (The Stern report sees the dangers, but not the solutions, 4 November). In as much as the report drives home the message that carbon emissions, if not reduced, will have catastrophic consequences for the planet, it should be welcomed.

It contains a wealth of scientific material that should finally lay to rest any doubts about the greenhouse effect.

However, we should be more cautious about the economic techniques the report uses, and its underlying philosophy. Socialist Worker journalist Kelly Hilditch quotes the review as describing climate change as “market failure on the greatest scale ever seen”.

But this does not mean that Sir Nicholas Stern, the man who wrote the report, thinks markets are to blame.

In fact, he is utilising a concept from capitalist economics which holds “market failure” to be caused by the “absence” of markets. The report is explicit on this point - because there is no market for the atmosphere, and no one owns the environment, no one can stop pollution. This is not a way of criticising markets but a way of justifying them and defending the ruling class that relies on them.

The report’s “solution” follows from this conclusion - to prevent environmental disaster, we should “create” a market for pollution!

That’s what all the current “carbon trading” schemes are about. They claim to reduce emissions by allowing heavy carbon producers to buy “rights to pollute” off those who produce little.

As Kelly Hilditch says, the scheme has not worked in Europe, where carbon emissions have risen since it was introduced.

Socialists need a thorough critique of the Stern report. We can accept its scientific findings, without giving an inch to its pseudo-scientific free market economics. Marxists need to show that a truly scientific understanding of society does not buy into the myth that free markets can solve all humanity’s problems.

Far from it. Capitalism and the market are the root cause of our problems, including climate change. Ultimately, only the removal of capitalism can solve it.

Jacob Middleton, East London

I agree with most of what Socialist Worker says about climate change. But I think that your stance that big business is completly opposed to doing anything about it is misguided.

Surely if they think it’s profitable to make cleaner, greener products, they will do so.

And if there is customer demand for such products, the big businesses aren’t going to say, “Oh, we still can’t be bothered.” It seems most environmentalists fear technological advances and want us to go back to a time long forgotten. This won’t help us at all.

Dan Factor, East London

Changes in our lives

Over the last few weeks Socialist Worker has been discussing the oppression of women. Things have changed for the better for women in my lifetime.

Some examples are the inventions of washing up liquid, washing powder, nylons and ballpoint pens.

Then in 1967 came the Abortion Act, which made abortion legal. Before that my husband and I were often visited by teenage girls who had had an abortion and could not go home to their own families.

They would ring us up in tears and give us a false name. They would then come and stay with us for a few days to recover. It was illegal for us to shield them, as well as for them to have an abortion.

There was also the contraceptive pill. You could now have sex without necessarily having a baby.

That most definitely gave women more control over our own lives and more chance to enjoy life without constant anxiety about getting pregnant.

Then in the late 1960s and early 1970s came the women’s liberation movement, with women refusing to be treated as second class citizens anymore.

There were women like Germaine Greer, who now lives in a big house in the country and shows off her flowers on telly.

Some of these women, I regret to say, actually welcomed it as a victory for women when Margaret Thatcher became prime minister.

I did not want to be identified with her in any way. She is part of the ruling class and our enemy.

We are supposed to have equal pay and equal rights for women, but women still get paid less than men and women generally still don’t get the state pension.

As a result of women’s lower status and lower pay, both men and women are worse off than they could be.

We all need to fight together, men and women, to get a better life for everyone, free from exploitation and oppression.

Mary Phillips, South London

Respect shows its support for Palestine

The South Manchester branch of Respect hosted a Solidarity With Palestine fair on Sunday of last week in Rusholme, Manchester.

Visitors from Beit Leed in the West Bank were visiting the north west of England.

They were raising people’s awareness of the conditions of poverty, fear and deprivation that are caused by living in occupied territory in Palestine.

Over 50 people visited the fair and raised £225 for the Palestinians, who are trying to provide basic facilities.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, trade unionists and a representative from the Muslim Jewish Forum all supported the fair.

The aim is to launch a campaign to twin the Lancashire town of Pendle with Beit Leed to offer solidarity to the Palestinians living under siege due to the erection of Israel’s apartheid wall.

Preston Respect councillor Michael Lavalette gave a presentation on his journey to Palestine in 2004.

The mayor of Beit Leed, Salameh Draiei, gave an emotional thank you to the people of Manchester for their concern and support.

The meeting concluded with a rousing speech from trade unionist Mohammed Amara. For further information, or to make a donation to the fund, contact South Manchester Respect on 07974 657 083.

Lucinda Lavelle, Manchester

Stop the media’s assault on Islam

I was annoyed but not surprised to hear that the Sun and News of the World have printed the lurid stories Socialist Worker (Revealed: how Murdoch press smears Muslims, 4 November) described about British Muslims.

This is the direct result of several years of demonisation of Islam by politicians and the press, and the attacks and occupations of Muslim lands.

One solution would be to remove all the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

But I fear that the “war on terror” demands an enemy.

Muslims are that enemy for now, and will continue to be until this war is over.

A more general solution to this type of story would be to insist newspapers make retractions to false stories of equal size. The headlines, number of pages and copy would have to be similar to the original.

I believe this would stop unscrupulous editors.

Each time they made dodgy allegations they would have to use the front page to apologise and the next 12 to comment on their behaviour.

Instead of describing Respect MP George Galloway as a “traitor” maybe the Sun could apologise for how inaccurate it is.

Adam Di Chiara, East London

NHS faces big job losses

NHS Watch ( has been tracking NHS job losses since April 2006.

While there are some small differences between the estimates (Socialist Worker, 4 November), it is clear that many more jobs have been lost in the NHS than Tony Blair or anyone from the current government cares to admit to.

So that we are clear with our figures, we are conducting another self-review and verification, with each NHS trust listed in out tables. We hope to have this done in the next two weeks.

We do not anticipate in any way that the figures will go down!

See the various comments that we have have made on our blog,

Mike McNamara, NHS Watch

Sylvia’s other achievements

Lindsey German’s article about Sylvia Pankhurst (Demanding liberation, 4 November) was interesting - but fails to mention many things about that great stalwart of humanity.

Sylvia’s fight against Italy’s Fascism, Germany’s Nazism, and for the liberation of Africa from the scourge of imperialism makes me believe her to be the greatest revolutionary of all.

She lies buried in Ethiopia. People should read her biography by her son, Richard Pankhurst.

Luke Weyland, New South Wales, Australia

Pankhurst and racism

I really enjoyed the article on Sylvia Pankhurst. Pankhurst was a committed anti-racist.

In 1920, the leading British left wing paper, the Daily Herald, published an article about the French deployment of black troops which talked about “primitive African barbarians”, and their “unrestrained bestiality”.

Pankhurst published a response to this racism from the black poet and writer Claude McKay in her paper, the Workers Dreadnought. She also gave McKay a job as a reporter on the paper.

Denise Law, Grimsby

Hiding from the reality

The British parliament voted last week against an inquiry into the Iraq war.

What does your government (and mine) have to hide? If things were done properly then the government should want to publicise that.

If things were done wrong then a responsible government would want to learn from its mistakes, so they wouldn’t be repeated in the future.

Wars should be conducted because your country has been attacked, not because a wealthy, political US family wants revenge against a former ally.

Chuck Mann, North Carolina, US

Poor whites left out?

A recent article in the bosses’ Economist magazine examined the “forgotten underclass” - poor white working class people.

It showed how in Barking and Dagenham in east London just 32 percent of white children got five “good” GCSEs last year. Black and Asian children did better.

In Leicester 24 percent of white children got five “good” GCSEs.

In 2001 white British men made up 89 percent of the workforce, but 93 percent of the manufacturing workforce. But this is a declining industry.

Manufacturing employed 30 percent of all male workers 20 years ago, but this is now down to 18 percent.

Rather than Asian or black people being left out by this society, it seems that white working class people are being cast to the sidelines.

Is this just a right wing spin on an isolated situation or an unpalatable truth for the left?

Julia Ward, West London

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Article information

Sat 11 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2026
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