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Letters

Civilised?

Dear Editors
Of late most poor countries have had their debts rescheduled or cancelled. This is the usual solution to a debt crisis. However, this leaves nothing alright as it does not alter the relationship between the rich and the poor. It does not stop the exploitation of the poor by the rich nor the suffering of the unemployed and the peasants. After all, even in the richest countries of the world people can be seen on the streets begging to work and or for food.

For example, why is food destroyed while millions of people starve and more money is spent on weapons than on medical research? We are supposed to be civilized yet Russia and USA have 5000 nuclear warheads pointed at each other. How can we claim to be civilized when on any one day over 1.3 billion people go without food, yet the world can produce easily enough food to feed seven times the present world population?

It seems options are running out for humankind. The wars, pollution and other destruction of the Earth's resources cannot continue indefinitely. To say nothing of the failure to provide basic amenities for so many while a few enjoy great wealth. Sale and profit must not be seen as the best motive to ensure human well-being. The possibilities exist to satisfy human need, but only if the Earth belongs to all of the world's people.
WEIJAGYE JUSTUS, Kabale, UGANDA

Revolution and counter-revolution?

Dear Editors
I read in your latest publication, Socialist Principles Explained, that you reject the revolutionary approach to achieving socialism. As you state, that the state is too powerful, through the police and armed forces and can easily crush such an uprising. Though later you say if elected you will dismantle or neuter the armed forces so they cannot interfere with the will of the people. How will this be achieved, will the armed forces simply be disbanded? What if the Generals and Majors, etc resist? How can we stop, say a Colonel Blimp figure leading a counter-revolution against Parliament?
STEVEN JOHNSTON, STOCKPORT

Reply:
We think we know what you are trying to say but our new pamphlet does not in fact reject "the revolutionary approach to socialism". In the chapter headed, precisely, "democratic revolutionary change" we argue that a revolution in the basis of society is required–from class ownership and control to common ownership and control-and that this revolution can be, and should be, carried out democratically and essentially peacefully. What we rejected was an armed insurrection to try to win power (not that these days anybody takes such a proposition seriously, do they?) which you, mistakenly, identify as "the revolutionary approach" whereas you should call it "the insurrectionary approach".

Our argument, in a nutshell, is that, if socialists are in a minority, to attempt an armed uprising would be suicidal folly, and you won't catch us advocating it, especially since a minority can't impose socialism on a majority anyway. If, on the other hand, socialists are in the majority (as they must be before socialism can be established) then an armed insurrection is unnecessary as the majority can use the ballot box to send delegates to parliament to take over political control. In any event, as we've always said, "if people won't vote for socialism, then they'll certainly not fight for it".

But, you say, supposing a majority do vote for it but that the top brass in the armed forces refuse to accept the democratically expressed majority will of the people? That would be suicidal folly on their part, as we can't imagine that the majority would simply stand by and meekly accept their will being thwarted. We can imagine that there'd be mutinies since the rank and file and even most officers are recruited from the working class and so would be influenced by socialist ideas; that there'd be strikes as workers refused to supply the armed forces with food, electricity and other essentials; that there'd be mass civil disobedience (refusal to obey the rebels' edicts) and street demonstrations. We leave it up to you to work out how long you think Colonel Blimp and his cronies could hold out in such circumstances. As someone once said, no force can hold back an idea whose time has come, and the existence of a majority vote for socialism would show that socialism's time had come.

But, to tell the truth, we don't think that your hypothetical scenario is at all likely. Faced with a massive majority vote for socialism, and a working class outside parliament organised to back it up, we don't see the ruling class putting their life and liberty on the line by resorting to violence to try to resist the inevitable. Maybe there'll be a few isolated acts of violence by fool-hardy individuals, but these could easily be contained and the socialist revolution should be able to pass off essentially peacefully

-Editors.