Short sighted

Comrade Vernon Douglas implies that Mary Ward’s article on the M77 is guilty of tailing the Greens and their “reactionary, anti-industrial agenda” (Letters, February 16). However, it seems to me that comrade Douglas is guilty of tail-ending the bourgeoisie’s profit driven ‘road-mania’, with all its environmental and ecological consequences.

It almost goes without saying that communists, unlike some Greens, are not opposed on principle to roads, motorways, by-passes, etc. As Leon Trotsky was fond of saying, there is a time and a place for everything. It is just a question of deciding what the correct time and place is. Surely it is clear that clogging up the country with more and more motorways is just not practical, or rational, no matter how convenient it may be for Vernon and his desperately important job.

As it says in the ‘What we fight for’ column, “pollution and the environment are class questions”. Comrade Douglas’s crude workerism does not recognise this, of course. Communism is not ‘dependent’ on what this or that worker thinks (ie, comrade Douglas!), or a section of the working class (ie, construction workers!), or even the working class as a whole. It is based upon what is necessary, for the development of humanity: ie, giving leadership to the whole of society.

Comrade Douglas’s ‘super-roadism’ is no solution: it is part of the problem. The central issue here is that the current ‘road-mania’ is an integral part of the government’s privatisation process and its relentless drive to cut public spending. Therefore, communists should not be afraid to lend their critical support to ‘anti-motorway’ campaigns. Indeed, it is imperative that we be there to give it a scientific direction, as opposed to a quasi-mystical one.

Bob Fowler

Motorway madness

I respond to express my dismay at Vernon Douglas’s comments (Letters February 16). They strike me as in the style of the old macho Stalinist: horny handed, son-of-toil contempt for anything ‘soft’, compassionate or ‘liberal’. So it was that such people defended the slaughter of the whale by the manly and practical USSR against the soft and sentimental anti-whale lobby.

What must be nailed is the lie that people who see environmental issues as important are somehow less clued up than those who can only recognise practical, common sense, bread and butter issues like wages. To a communist the two are inextricably linked.

It is not a question of animals over people, or vice versa - or progress over conservation: it is a humanitarian and progressive relationship between all the factors of our existence.

On the question of “industrial” development, comrade, humanity long ago reached the stage where our existing industrial development can feed, clothe and house the world in a balance with nature. It is the existence of capitalism which prevents rationalisation to ensure the survival of impoverished peoples and threatened species, not the need for still more industrial development - god help us.

As to roads and individual modes of transport like the private car against that of mass organised transport systems, the arguments are really so clear as to need no repetition here.

The motorway is inherently dangerous, wilfully destructive and totally unnecessary. Vernon may well like riding in his car, but it is becoming a luxury we are all having to pay for and which in terms of damage to the environment we cannot afford. Suppose everyone of driving age in Britain wanted to ride in his/her car: suppose even current ratios of car driving applied to China or India - the whole thing becomes globally disastrous.

The private car, like the ownership of money itself, only works if some can have it while most cannot. Can any rational person say getting in a train in Doncaster alongside hundreds of other people travelling at 200 plus miles an hour in clean, relatively safe and environmentally friendly transport is not better than 600/700 individuals in separate cars of various style and ages, driven by people of mixed skills and abilities, travelling at high speed in close proximity to each other in variable weather conditions?

Roads and private transport are not the answer. As a communist, I oppose the further extension of roads.

Dave Douglass
South Yorkshire