I am a subscriber to the Socialist Standard and am always absorbed by every article. As a former member of the Labour Party (not very active) and reader of Socialist Worker I realise that your organisation and beliefs represent a clear unambiguous alternative to capitalism unlike the latter.
The fanfare of eulogies and general sycophancy devoted to Tony Blair after his long awaited departure announcement not only obscured that his principal legacy is that most of New Labour legislation since 1997 required the support of the Tories, but to create the illusion that the direction of governments and related events are somehow influenced by an individual’s personal characteristics. Behind all the talk about “end of eras” and legacies the reality is that Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer has had to be more “New” Labour than anyone else within the government and the red carpet to No 10 which is clearly being unrolled for him is solely to ensure that the political landscape in the UK is even more bi-partisan than it is now.
It is interesting to note that many, particularly in the Tory Party, who call for an election now because of a mid-term change of personality in No 10 have not been equally insistent that Mr Blair faced a leadership contest in the first place rather than being allowed to just walk away like some revered abdicating monarch. Moreover if their concern about accountability is genuine and not about political point scoring over personalities they would surely be at the forefront to insist Mr Brown faces an open leadership contest with a candidate from the traditional left, a contest that many mainstream political pundits are trying to eschew in fear of what it might reveal.
With so many political issues at stake, particularly Iraq, such a contest would be a reminder of what politics should be about in a democracy albeit confined to one party.
NICK VINEHILL, Snettisham, Norfolk
Thieves and robbers
Thank you for sending me the article from the Socialist Standard. In common with most Marxist analysis it regards those who rob, burgle and steal in capitalist countries not as robbers, burglars and thieves, but as co-workers in the fight for a more equitable distribution of wealth. Of course, once the socialist society is born then these same people are indeed robbers, burglars and thieves and deserve the harshest of punishments. In China, for example, crooks are executed on a grand scale. In short: this argument is politically self-serving and morally derelict.
Reply: China and other similar and past regimes are not and never were socialist, but state capitalist (see the article on Maoism in this issue). And we don’t regard workers who steal from their fellow workers as engaging in the class struggle against the capitalist class (themselves a class of robbers). – Editors.