I have read Mary Godwin's article on animal rights (Weekly Worker February 15). I think that new drugs are essential to fight illness and it is acceptable to eat animals to sustain life. Indeed animals eat other animals for that purpose.
However, there is the question of our responsibility for the welfare of animals. Does this include the execution of animals for use as food products and for vivisection, when there are alternative food sources and methods of testing and verifying the safety of drugs?
Communism is revolutionary, a challenge to the orthodoxy of bourgeois cultural and political hegemony in every area of life. So I call for a communist programmatic commitment to abolish the execution of animals and all forms of vivisection when a safe alternative can be proven to exist, including a commitment to seek such an alternative.
Thanks for publishing my letter, except that the title, 'Don't vote', was misleading (Weekly Worker March 8). That wasn't what I said, or meant. 'Don't vote' is an anarchist position, which I reject. What I was advocating was a write-in vote for socialism.
I believe you propose something similar in the 500 or so constituencies in which the SA will not be standing.
As the CPGB attracts more and more interest from students such as myself and many other young comrades from around the country, I feel it is time that we address students who are objectively on the left.
I speak not only as a CPGB comrade, but also as a college organiser for the Rebel student group up here in north east England. For those of you unaware of Rebel, it is in fact an offshoot from the Socialist Workers' Student Society, which is of course the student organisation of the Socialist Workers Party. However, it is open to all revolutionary socialists.
Some may feel dubious about the capacity of such an organisation - I agree myself that sectioning off students into a separate organisation threatens democracy from the point of view of the student comrades, making them seem 'lesser members', and does little to involve them actively in real party work or actual intellectual involvement in politics at the operational level. However, I believe we also have to address one simple fact with reference to students. They do not live a pampered existence nor do they enjoy a whole raft of elementary democratic rights.
Consider this - students by and large receive sub-minimum (even by bourgeois standards) income, those under 18 are denied basic rights such as the right to vote, and until recently, the right to homosexual relations, but are still classed as adults by public services and expected to pay accordingly. If these students choose to continue their tuition to higher education, they will incur massive debts before they even begin to earn. The student loan system is bad enough if you discount the fact that often the amount granted is not even enough to sustain the individual.
However, the key point underlying all these points is one glaring fact - students today have no effective union at all. The National Union of Students is a pitiful example of what Blairite politics can do to an organisation supposedly geared towards defending its members.
It is clear, then, why Rebel has attracted so much interest. In my college after only a couple of months in operation meetings are held weekly, and the organisation is run in a completely democratic way, independent of its SWSS parent to a great extent. One SWP party worker told me that she believed that Rebel should be a democratic affair, with individual branches free to campaign on proposals put forward by their own members.
Our branch is at the moment campaigning to legalise cannabis, after a student was forbidden by tutors from even carrying out a survey of students' attitudes towards the subject. It is clear from this top-down approach to college operation and the resulting censorship and disregard to freedom of speech that this is an issue for communists to become involved with. However, it is also clear that such a campaign can easily fall into reformism. After all, even some members of the House of Lords support the decriminalisation of cannabis.
I have to say that even within Rebel I have seen a leaning towards reformism, if not through conscious policy, then simply through poor organisation and thin guidelines in their information material. However, I believe that the SWP cannot be anything but congratulated for creating Rebel. Students are extremely active in campaigning and pressure group politics, but so often their message is sucked into the realms of reformism and unreasonable compromise, or is lost altogether.
We need to indicate that there can be no permanent answer to the plight of today's youth in modern capitalist society, nor is there any real reward to be gained from replacing one establishment party with another, but that only through the conscious overturning of the state and rule by the majority can humanity begin to realise its true potential. I feel we need to appeal to students, not through trendy slogans and Che Guevera T-shirts, nor some kind of Sesame-Street-style ABC to Marxism that has been attempted in the past.
We simply need to speak to students at their level, in a way which they can grasp and understand and which is relative to them, but which talks real politics at the same time. This cannot be done through publications like the Weekly Worker as it stands, which would undoubtedly baffle the 'rank and file' teenage wage slave. The average politics student at 'A' level thinks revisionism is something to do with the run-up to exams! Of course, I adore the Weekly Worker, would not replace it for the world, and certainly never for the opportunist and strike-obsessed SWP alternative. The paper champions real politics, but it lacks accessibility, and the two are not, and cannot be, mutually exclusive. At least accessibility is something that Socialist Worker can be commended on, if not for in-depth politics or serious content for the most part.
That issue aside, some may say, why not simply get students involved in the SA directly instead of segregating them into some other group? Because, comrades, by simply encouraging outside participation in something like the Socialist Alliance alone, you are wasting the talents of many prospective comrades who just want to be involved in something within college or school, and don't want to, or even can't, join the SA, for whatever reason.
One Rebel spokesman once told me that he thinks of Rebel as a parallel to the SA in the student world. Of course, this view is not 100% sound by any means. The SWP heads the organisation single-handedly, so it hardly boasts an independent role or place within alliance structures.
However, I agree wholeheartedly that it has the potential to be an effective organisation which could act not as a 'youth Socialist Alliance', but as a completely democratic organisation, geared as a revolutionary students' group to combat the oppression which is rife in youth culture, and which encourages students to get involved with the SA outside college or school if they so wish. Not to indoctrinate them with Marx and Lenin beyond dissent, but to encourage them to take a serious look around at the world today and at the way in which thirst for profit and 'achievement' has left them far behind.
Rebel stands as an opposition, however weak, to the appalling state of the education system in this country. Together, I believe we can make it strong. There is nothing to be lost in getting involved with something that has the capacity to be something, just because it seems rather one-sided at present. If the SWP are willing to accept CPGBers, I don't see why we can't get involved, and create an organisation dedicated to revolutionary socialism and to ending all forms of oppression in our decremented youth.