I am a member of the trade union UNISON. I have just received, as have other members, a questionnaire asking me my name, address, telephone number, whether I am male or female, all of which, including other information, is necessary for UNISON’s records. I was, however, asked to state whether I am “white”, “black”, Irish, of Pakistani origin, or “other”. I wrote after ticking “other”, that I was “a member of the human race”, as I had on the recent government census form. While I accept that UNISON has good intentions (it has always opposed racism in the trade union movement), I feel that stating one’s alleged “racial” or ethnic origins is from a working-class viewpoint divisive.
I was also asked to state if I was a member of the Labour Party. I stated that I was not. I added in the small amount of space provided that I was a member of the Socialist Party (of G.B.). Did I do the right thing?
PETER E. NEWELL, Colchester, Essex
Religion – yet again
I find it amazing that you exclude religious people from membership considering true Christians in particular hold Socialist beliefs, “any serious Christian is a Socialist”, that is a quote I read somewhere and it is very true, the bible preaches love, tolerance, equality, and helping out each other, because together we can accomplish anything. It is the Church Leaders and the Right-Wing radicals that ruin it, and make God look bad. For example, many Christians hate homosexuals, but here is a problem (1) the bible says all sins are equal before God, so there is nothing bad in particular about homosexuality, lying is just as bad , (2) the bible says only God can judge, that means any Christian that treats a homosexual with disrespect is not a true Christian but a hypocrite. The point is real Christians are Socialists, and I myself am a Christian but have a lot of left leanings. Thanks for your time, and good day.
Richard Wilson (by email)
Reply: We never said that a Christian (or a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Scientologist) could not want a socialist society. People can be right for the wrong reason. All we said was that people who don’t take a non-theistic, materialist approach to things are not eligible to join the Socialist Party. If your theological point about the bible teaching that all “sins” are equal is true, eg that killing someone is no worse than telling a lie, then the bible contains more nonsense than we thought—Editors.
Capitalism is the one killing us. When one turns on the radio, television or reads newspapers, there is always repeated similar headlines.
What makes the news “worth” reading has to do with some death somewhere, a death which in sane conditions would have not taken place. The news could also be about war, crime, accidents, poverty and/or some other sort of evil. You could hear, for example, that terrorists have attacked and that thousands of people including children and the disabled are reported to be missing (to void the “impolite” language of saying are reported to have died). “The army in X has overthrown the government and so and so many people are expected to be displaced or dead”. “The war in Y has left many dead, thousands of houses and other property destroyed and many thousands of people are displaced and homeless and are in need of relief food and other basic needs, and an impending disaster is likely due to the overcrowding and lack of sanitation”.
What presently makes news worth listening to or reading is always bad news. Many print and electronic media profit heavily from such headlines. There are individuals, groups and governments who are quick to sponsor and fund war and crime because in the insane capitalistic present society crime and war pay. The arms and ammunition industry (if at all it is an industry anyway) profit from the sale of weapons that are meant for human destruction. Most governments especially in poor and developing countries spend much of their resources and borrowed funds on strengthening their defence and protections at the expense of their citizens.
The physical and mental energy, the financial and material resources that are spent in countering the effects of capitalism by charity groups could be wisely and usefully spent in giving the world’s population scientific socialist education, the only education that opens the minds of people and gives them an understanding of the world we live on. It is this scientific socialist education that is the only intellectual energy that will end capitalism (and with it the evils mentioned earlier).
WEIJAGYE JUSTUS, Uganda
The views expressed in your reply (Socialist Standard, April) to my letter regarding a possible fascist European nation state developing at a later stage reveal an error in assessment.
Fascism is not just a military dictatorship capitalist state, seeking “a place in the sun” for markets and raw materials, but is primarily a counter-revolutionary force, created to crush within its own borders, serious trends developing for “social” change that could lead to “socialism”, by large sections of workers.
Whatever our view of the 1917 Russian revolution, the event put “the fear of God” into the ruling elite of Europe. Hitler’s Germany was called “a barrier against Bolshevism” by the then Governor of the Bank of England. “A bastion to prevent the spread of ‘Communism’”. After 1917, revo-lutionary movements abounded throughout Europe.
Your detailed summary of the present European Union is irrelevant to the case on a future European Nation State, the one-government assembly containing delegates form Europe’s regions of national councils. To assume, as you do, that in a revolutionary situation the delegates would never be legislated by majority to vote for fascists’ policies by the regions is politically naïve. The fact that some Tories are opposed to a European state, preferring closer economic links to the USA, does not diminish the view of genuine dangers for the workers of Europe.
LIONEL RICH, London NW6
Reply: There are at least two things wrong with your nightmare scenario about a European Super-State somehow coming into existence and then going fascist.
First, your revival of the old “Communist” Party line that fascism is “primarily a counter-revolutionary force”. This implied that Bolshevism was some sort of revolutionary force. In fact, by the 1930s Bolshevism was a rival totalitarian ideology and movement to fascism which shared many of the latter’s features (one-party state, mass rallies, leader worship, concentration camps, etc). We repeat that, in our view, both Fascism and Bolshevism are to be explained from the concrete historical circumstances facing the ruling class in Italy, Germany and Russia in the first part of the 20th century and which are not being repeated at the present time (and are not likely to be). In fact, fascism today is related to opposition to immigration rather than open support for dictatorship. Of course as long as capitalism lasts what limited democratic procedures exist will not be 100 percent secure, but we would have thought that the growth of a genuine socialist movement would make them more secure, not less as in your nightmare scenario.
Second, there is the uncomfortable fact for you that most fascists today – the BNP, Le Pen, National Front, etc – are, as you urge us to be, against the Common Market. Apparently, they think they have a better chance of making progress if Europe is divided into separate, competing states with each having its own distinct nationalist ideology that they can latch onto. Which is one reason why, although we are against the Common Market as we are against any capitalist arrangement, we don’t want to touch the nationalist opposition to it with a barge pole. It is why we advocated constructive abstention (by writing “World Socialism” across the ballot paper) in the 1975 referendum on the issue and why we will be advocating the same thing in the referendum next year or the year after on the euro—EDITORS.