Safe and clean
This discussion on global warming specifically and the environment in general is long overdue.
Ive worked in the power generation business for over 22 years in the United States. I was active in the first Labor Conference for Safe Energy and Full Employment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after Three Mile Island. I was very active against nuclear power - until recently.
30 years studying the pitfalls, caveats, economics and safety of nuclear energy has convinced me that, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl notwithstanding, nuclear energy is the safest and cleanest form of electrical energy production around. It is high time the left re-examined three-decades-old positions and investigated the record, the economics and the technology of nuclear power, which is certainly the cheapest and most reliable way to cut down on carbon-spewing coal plants.
Safe and clean
Safe and clean
Barry Biddulphs comments about the recent Campaign for a Marxist Party meeting in Sheffield are very surprising. It would seem from his comments that the meeting was essentially united in opposition to the views of Phil Sharpe.
Omitted from this impression is the real truth that, on the question of the character of programme and other issues, Barry was part of a definite political trend alongside Phil Walden and myself. This common trend was expressed on the issue of democratic centralism, even if Barry now wants to distance himself from Phil and myself on this question. However, the meeting generally was not polarised and many different points of view were expressed on the issues as they arose.
It is necessary for me to correct Barrys misinterpretations on two questions. Firstly, I did not argue for the creation of a reformist workers party, but was trying to get a response from Hillel Ticktin about the question of what our attitude should be if a genuine workers party arose. It is my view that revolutionaries should be prepared to join such a formation as a minority and struggle to win support for a revolutionary programme.
Secondly, I obviously do not advocate a market economy, but caution is necessary in relation to excessively optimistic assessments that we can quickly do away with the role of the market in a post-capitalist economy. An economy transitional to communism must have some combination of the plan and the market; to deny this is to support an impractical utopia.
I would also ask Barry, why is reference to John Maclean and Bukharin an expression of being different for being differents sake? The mention of John Maclean concerned his call for the unification of the Social Democratic Federation and Independent Labour Party in relation to the workers party question. While an interesting discussion about Bukharin arose in terms of his historical role in relation to the development of Stalinism, nobody supported the Bukharin of 1925-28, and it was Ticktin who made the common-sense comment that Bukharin and Trotsky should have united against Stalin in 1929. I think only Gerry Downing had major disagreements with this view.
Lastly, it would be amazing to think that Barry is unaware that the Weekly Worker editor used his editorial discretion when Phils report of the Sheffield meeting was published. This is precisely why it is better to criticise the political contents of a particular article, and to accept that anyones interpretation of a meeting is bound to have an aspect of bias, including the opinion of Barry himself!
String em up
Classic Marxism took a keen interest in physical science and its relationship to materialist philosophy, so following the developments in modern physics should be of interest to Marxists. The problem is that, since the early 20th century, what is meant by matter has become a far more complicated question than when Engels and Lenin wrote on it. If youre seriously interested in the debates in modern physics, I wouldnt rely on Michio Kaku, who is a populariser, not a leading string theorist by any means.
Instead, start off with The emperors new mind by Roger Penrose to get a grounding in relativity and quantum theory and then read The elegant universe by Brian Greene, the best popular introduction to string theory. Also, remember that this is a hotly debated field, with recent books by Peter Woit (Not even wrong) and Lee Smolin (The trouble with physics) opposing string theory for lack of testable propositions and stalled progress.
M-theory, originally developed by Ed Witten, is not a particularly new theory, as stated by Alan Conchar. Its been around since the 1990s and its unlikely to be proven soon, either by satellite evidence in 2012 or any other foreseeable experiment. At best, its possible that the proposed LISA satellite or the LIGO experiment may detect gravitational waves, which might offer clues to the existence of gravitons, a requirement of all string theories.
The Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva may soon provide evidence of effects beyond the standard model of quantum chromodynamics (based on quarks). In particular, it may provide evidence of supersymmetric particles, a requirement of string theory, but not a direct proof. However, the scale and energy levels at which strings are supposed to operate is many orders of magnitude beyond the LHC and, indeed, close to the area where direct physical measurements become impossible due to the planckian nature of matter.
The real goal is to develop a quantum theory of gravity, which would reconcile general relativity and quantum theory, descriptions of nature which are proven and correct within their own limits, but have mutually contradictory implications at the highest energy levels. A good starting point is the blog run by Sean Carroll and others at www.cosmicvariance.com, which has links to other useful science and physics blogs and resources.
I would also recommend Christoph Schillers very stimulating online physics text at www.motionmountain.net. This argues for a complete conceptual revolution in looking at the universe, although he wont provide you with all the answers!
String em up
Mike Macnairs polemic against the Trotskyist type of party is very revealing (Weekly Worker March 29, April 5 and April 12). My problem is not with whats been said, but that it takes so long to sprawl out an argument.
Im not suggesting that you should write articles like Socialist Worker or a Weekly Worker for dummies, just that you highlight or underline your points more. Sometimes the arguments can get so convoluted it literately makes you go cock-eyed. I think we can learn a lot from Tony Cliffs Marxism at the millennium: ie, that Marxists are in advance of the working class in general, but in revolutionary times can lag well behind and need to learn from the class.
We arent in a position of a hundred years ago, where troops are shooting down striking miners, but people are beginning to be really pissed off with capitalism and, although Marxism is vast, its not rocket science.
James Turley believes in scientific analysis of the social forces and dismisses the real science involved in the 9/11 attack. This guy is a flat-out liar, as can be easily proven by the multitude of engineers who dismiss the planes did it theory.
Ryan Gallagher writes propaganda like this: The very fact that the 9/11 Truth Movement cant gain the support of a relevant structural engineer goes a long way to describing the invalidity of the inside job theories. George W Bush and his warmongering imperialist allies have committed plenty of crimes and injustices without the need of attributing to them deeds they did not do.
And expects anyone with the simplest understanding of 9/11 to give him credence?
In fact, sir, the 9/11 truth movement will bring Bush to justice, and we will also look at royalty-lovers, whose hands are constantly washed in innocents blood.
Veil of oppression
I have only just joined Respect, but I cannot understand why one would want to defend veil wearing for democratic reasons, as if the Respect party is afraid to lose muslim members if they go against wearing the veil.
I think veils look horrible and many muslim women wear them because muslim men think they can rape women who do not wear the veil. As such it is a sign of oppression. I am not into religious cults in any case and would want to see these veils gone from the streets. Whichever way you look at it, even from a communist or Respect perspective, I would want to see to whom I am speaking.
I think those who defend the veil on democratic grounds should diligently research the religious and sexual oppression faced by muslim women before they even open their mouths. To confuse the veil issue with defending democracy is naive, to say the least.
Veil of oppression
The Christian Socialist Movement contains many who would be in sympathy with a lot of what the Communist Party stands for. I believe there is a shift making its way slowly and unwittingly to our side of politics, particularly among the younger generation.
With the Christian Socialists now wanting to become more radical, according to CSM chair Andrew Bradstock, this may be a good time to become more aligned in the push forward for a more socialist society.
I note the latest letter from the so-called Rotten Elements: Anybody who thinks Gordon Downies Weekly Worker writing is anything other than contemptible counterrevolutionary trash is a cretin. If anyone asks, we said so.
I wonder if this is an example of the more sophisticated level of cultural critique they apparently believe the CPGB should engage in?
Some people have a way with words and others have a way with numbers, but there are those who say you cant have a way with both.
After a hard days graft marshalling his troops from his south London office, the SWP national organiser, Martin Smith, decided to try and disprove the theory. Having settled down in the back row of the April 16 Respect GLA members meeting, and by carefully manoeuvring his body so as to cover up his activities, the experiment started. He took out his mobile phone and started playing suduko.
Suffice to say the experiment failed, as halfway through the meeting the challenging puzzle was less than 50% complete. Overheard later in the pub were some comrades who speculated that the organiser could be short of a few functions.
I am a communist living in Russia and let me tell you that the position on prostitution in your Draft programme doesnt cut it.
The aim of communism is to totally abolish all forms of exploitation and totally emancipate humanity, including prostitutes. Allowing prostitution allows exploitation and objectification and denotes a massive inequality between men and women. Im sure this issue doesnt seem as big to people living in what is mostly a destination country for trafficked women, but that reformist position does little to comfort hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian parents who have lost their daughters to that vile trade.
Those who say Its the worlds oldest profession and Well always have it are thinking in the same bourgeoisie framework that limits our actions to those considered acceptable in this modern time. The goal of communists needs to be nothing less than the total liberation of women.
I realise you want to take prostitution out of the hands of criminals, but the best way to do that is the brutal destruction of those criminals. In the meantime, a far more practical measure to push for is a law similar to that of South Korea and Sweden. Under their new laws, pimps and clients are criminally charged, while prostitutes are not. This has devastated the trade in Sweden and the word is out that its practically impossible to run a prostitution ring in that country.
That is the only conceivable stop-gap policy that a communist, especially one that has the courage to stand up for existing socialism, including the pre-revisionist Soviet Union, could possibly take. Beyond that, we must view those who run the sex trade as nothing but vermin to be exterminated without pity.
If you are truly as sincere as all your other material suggests, you will bring this issue up. I realise that this policy was probably conceived with well-meaning intentions, but the reality is that the realisation of such reformist aims will just assist the capitalists in their push to fully legalise prostitution.
Contrary to what Simon Keller might think, not every question asked on the Weekly Worker letters page is deserving of a reply. However, the question that Stuart McDowell posed and Simon Keller reiterates - If the bombs drop on Tehran, will this group [Hands Off the People of Iran] still be calling for regime change? - is one worth commenting upon, because it is symptomatic of so much of what is wrong with the prevalent (so-called) anti-imperialism of the left today.
Firstly, it should be noted that it is for HOPI itself to decide its own positions. As far as the CPGB is concerned, Eddie Ford expressed our position perfectly clearly in these pages last week: In the event of an open conflict between Washington and Tehran, the existing slaughter in Iraq would look like a childrens party. Communists would not side with Washington against Tehran, nor would they side with Tehran against Washington. We would certainly prefer the defeat of Washington; but the best way to achieve that would be the overthrow of the theocratic regime in Tehran by the working class in Iran.
So to answer Stuart McDowells question as clearly as possible, yes, we will still be calling for regime change - in Tehran, Washington, London and all over the place, mind. And please note that the regime change that we call for is from below: we are for the victory of the working class.
Simon Keller claims that in every recent imperialist attack on a non-imperialist capitalist state the CPGB has been neutral in that conflict. While, unlike most of the left, we certainly refuse to side with the small criminal against the big criminal, it must be pointed out that comrade Kellers claims about our neutrality are plain nonsense. A simple glance over the Weekly Workers online archive is all that is needed to see this.
In every case we argue for the defeat of the imperialists, but not necessarily for the victory of whoever happens to be opposing them. We do not hold to the classless, often popular frontist, concept of my enemys enemy is my friend. With regard to the US-UKs 2003 attack on Iraq, we consistently argued that the main enemy is at home (For UK regime change, February 13 2003). Note that we said, Rather defeat for US-UK forces than their victory as the attack on Iraq began (March 20 2003), not after the occupation, as Simon Keller claims. Check the record!
Commenting on the Balkans conflict in 1999, we said: Socialists should stand for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of the Nato forces, and should seek to agitate against the war. The workers movement should be for the defeat of the Nato forces - but they should be relieved of their weaponry as they leave by the armed formations fighting for the liberation of the Kosova Albanians (Left Trotskyism and imperialism, May 13 1999).
When comrade Keller poses the available positions in his simplistic either-or fashion, in an attempt to score a polemical point against the CPGB, he makes clear not only his real position, but also that of many others on the left, such as John Reess Socialist Workers Party. Like him the SWP will jettison the independent fight of the working class and choose instead to side with the Iranian government as the lesser evil.
The Weekly Workers title page headline on April 12, Only pawns in their game, is deeply ironic. In fact it exactly reflects the contents of your paper with regard to your contorted, duplicitous stand on Iran. This appears to be a facile replica of the fence-sitting Neither Washington nor Moscow line, which was to sow so much confusion in the anti-imperialist camp in ages past. You appear bent on doing it again.
A plague on your house!
The Persian Gulf, or Arabian Gulf, as the Arabs would call it, is a very shallow sea. In places the big super tankers have only metres between their keels and the seabed.
It is therefore extremely unlikely Israel would patrol such waters with submarines (Double standards in London and Tehran, April 12).
Dont believe it
Chuck Wilsons response to Stuart King of Permanent Revolution was not as sharp as it could have been.
Actually, Stuart did have a point in his original criticism of the Weekly Worker sort of, anyway. The comrade complained that we carried a letter from one Mitch Pileggi telling fibs about PR (April 5). We can leave aside his nonsense that the Weekly Worker team, with pressing deadlines, should phone up organisations to check the veracity of claims made in letters to our paper (ie, not even commissioned articles). However, it is true that the original Pileggi letter simply did not ring true for anyone who knows something about the relatively civilised culture of PR compared with most of its Trot contemporaries.
But, as I wrote to Stuart personally, the occasional minor provocation is a small price to pay for an open, lively and contested letters page in our press (contested in the sense that, comrade King, you can write in and correct false claims something which, er, you have done).
If he had just made a simple correction and had a small moan, then fair enough. However, Stuart cannot resist a snide jibe at our open and honest publication - apparently our sloppy journalism means all serious socialists cannot believe a word that is in it.
This did make me chuckle, I must admit. Lets be clear, shall we? This is the same Stuart King who spent many a year as a leading member of the Workers Power group, isnt it? That is, the same WP that shared the grotesque parody of democratic centralism as most of the ostensibly Marxist left? A system of censorship and organised deceit that demands that members with minority positions must gag themselves in public and pretend to uncritically support the majority line.
Take, for example, the views of Stuarts old sect on the USSR. In 1998, after a clandestine five-year debate inside WP and amongst its international co-thinkers, readers of the organisations now long defunct Trotskyist International had a whole new world view sprung on them in its January-June issue. There we were informed that under the impact of events in eastern Europe from 1989 onwards, some members of the former majority in the organisation joined the old minority after the debate broke out anew in 1993.
As we commented a few years ago, what had become the minority view simply gently slipped into the depths. Workers Power had a new, binding line on the nature of the eastern European states after World War II. Our world had changed forever - and we never knew how, or why (Weekly Worker May 1 2003).
And, of course, comrade King - as a muscle-bound Trot - loyally parroted the new line as a requirement of his membership of this faintly ludicrous sect. So while we certainly knew what the majority of Stuarts organisation thought about the USSR and eastern Europe, we were never actually allowed to hear what Stuart honestly thought about that not insignificant chunk of the world.
Or - put another way - throughout much of his political career thus far, you really couldnt believe a word that Stuart King ever said.
Dont believe it
Dont believe it
Chuck out Chuck
Chuck Wilsons letter in this weeks paper is quite amusing, though not for the reasons I imagine you chose to print it.
It doesnt take long on the net to discover that Chuck Wilson is the same person as Johnny Favorite and as Mitch Pileggi who recently wrote in to your paper. Chuck openly brags about his activities on the Meanwhile at the bar message board. Taking the piss out of leftists (Workers Power in particular) appears to be his sole political activity.
Why then, I wonder, do you continually print his nonsense? His letters are blatantly piss-takes, which veer toward the libellous.
I appreciate the Weekly Worker has a long history of printing pieces by people under false names - presumably to give the impression you have a larger membership and readership than is actually the case - but are you really so unconcerned about your reputation that you dont even bother to check simple facts?
As far as I can see, there can only be four reasons for you printing Chucks letters:
1. No-one else writes in and you need to fill up space (which would also be a reason for you printing letters that are actually copied off other web boards/web pages, not to mention the drivel that comes from John Smithee);
2. Your belief in yourselves as the only true communists makes you all too willing to believe anything said of your rivals;
3. Your letters page is edited by someone who wishes to see your paper fold following a libel case;
4. Your entire paper/organisation is simply a state front used to discredit the entire left.
Id be grateful if you could let us know the real reason. After all, you couldnt possibly be that naive really, could you?
Chuck out Chuck
Chuck out Chuck
Jim Moodys recent article on the Falklands crisis was very good. Possibly, however, he was a tad harsh on the Socialist Workers Partys position at the time, for all its weaknesses. After all, the SWP did state that the main enemy for Argentinas workers was the junta, just as it stated that the main enemy for workers in Britain was the Thatcher government.
However, had Jim written his article just a few days later, he would undoubtedly have taken the story a little further and noticed an important shift in the SWPs position a quarter of a century later. For in an editorial in Socialist Worker the headline calls on Britain to Give the Falklands back, and the accompanying article states that the islands should be returned to Argentina (April 7).
Indeed the editorial, presumably written by Chris Bambery, implies serious criticism of the SWPs previous position. Now Socialist Worker claims: Twenty-five years ago the war in the South Atlantic seemed a throwback to a bygone imperial age. In hindsight it was part of a process where war became more and more central to the global capitalist system.
How this contrasts, as Jim noted, with what Duncan Hallas wrote (Socialism and war Socialist Review May 1982). Hallas rightly stated that Pure prestige and internal politics are the driving force on both sides. He went on to argue: For Galtieri, anti-colonialism is a convenient pretext to divert Argentinean workers away from their struggle against the dictatorship. The timing of the Argentinean invasion was no doubt influenced by the rising tide of demonstrations and strikes in Argentina.
Clearly, then, Tony Cliffs SWP in 1982 was not sufficiently anti-imperialist for todays editor of Socialist Worker. But what has prompted this U-turn? The benefit of hindsight? Of course not. Nearly a decade later, Alex Callinicos was praising the position of Argentinean Marxists who refused to back the junta in the SWPs theoretical journal (Marxism and imperialism International Socialism March 1991). He admiringly quoted Dabat and Lorenzano, who argued that it was neither an anti-colonial conflict nor a struggle by an oppressed against an oppressor nation.
The U-turn has much more to do with the present politics of the SWP than with the failure of its old third camp position. Class politics have been replaced by bloc politics. Rees, Bambery, Callinicos et al have defined as progressive and championed any reactionary movement or leader - be it Milosevic, the Taliban, Saddam, Hezbollah or Ahmadinejad - that purports to be anti-imperialist, irrespective of the domestic imperative that drives them to divert their own working class from the real battle against them. Had the Argentineans delayed the invasion of the Falklands for 25 years, no doubt the SWP would now be saying Victory to Argentina.
Consequently, the old analysis of such regimes as being sub-imperialist (see Callinicoss article above) has disappeared from the pages of SWP journals, as has the more dubious one about workers in the third world not being super-exploited. Yet nothing has replaced such analyses, not in a theoretical sense anyway. Instead, the SWP is now simply prepared to ape the politics of old official communism - without the second-camp justifications.
How long will it be before the SWP defends Cuban socialism from US imperialism? Well, stranger things have been known to happen in politics.