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Letters to the Editor:
Where to begin?
There is a Luddite ring in the article "Capitalism & jobs — the fundamentals" (Guardian, May 19). Pat Barile states that "the main battles of the working class have to be aimed, ideologically and practically, at the job-killing use of more and more technology". As an afterthought, the connection is made between unemployment and exploitation. The big task "is to explain to millions of workers how and why (ideology) they are being ripped off (exploitation) and laid off (unemployment), and to help them to organise (the practical solution)". This practical solution, however, is mere wishful thinking. "When workers see how they are being ripped off, who is doing it and that they can do something about it, they will get rightfully angry and demand jobs and control over the wealth they create." The action foreseen does not follow from the premise particularly since, apart from being organised, it is not clear what the something is they can do. In any case, will they make the connection between the demand for jobs and the "control over the wealth they create"? Australian workers know they are being ripped off and have a good idea how and why. Yet all the organised workers can see as a solution is for public money to be used to protect jobs through hand-outs to the capitalists. That crucial "something they can do" is where the CPA is failing to carry out its vanguard role. For over a decade it has been calling for left, progressive and democratic forces to unite to form an alternative government. Even for this limited aim, what has the CPA done to gain the support of the working class, which must form its nucleus? What policies has it elaborated as its contribution? Nothing beyond social policies which people feel can be implemented by the Greens or by changing the ALP. Where are the policies that can here and now begin the struggle for "control over the wealth" the workers create, policies that attack the private ownership of the means of production? Are such policies possible? The CPA began several congresses ago to demand the extension of the public sector, but it has not elaborated specific proposals. Is it only a slogan designed to rally the people, a demand that can be implemented only by a future alternative government? A left strategy must incorporate policies that propose the immediate transfer of the ownership of the means of production to the people in a way that is acceptable to the majority. Nationalisation is out of the question at present. We need bold approaches to help us to move forward. We could try buying strategic parcels of shares in companies from the capitalists with their own money. It's been estimated that $80 billion a year could come from taxing the rich, increasing company tax, stopping various handouts to the rich, etc, etc. And control must be given not to government bureaucrats but to the unions and other non-government organisations. The use of the $80 billion to create jobs must be the Number One priority. There is the potential to activate the working class, to win the people away from the ALP which can only get the "best possible deal" for the workers within the system and leaves the basic cause of society's problems intact. Even such a demand as this which merely threatens the capitalist principle of private ownership would arouse the hostility of the ruling class. Therein lies its revolutionary potential. The Chinese Party adopted bold programs to build socialism and is doing it successfully. The only reason why we can't is a fear that we haven't the strength (unlike the Chinese) to carry it through. The crisis facing the working class is the system itself and not technology. Bob Saltis
I am not confused. I am not bewildered. I read The Guardian in full. I am saddened however because of the prospect that my country will not be the vanguard of those who will embrace socialism. I am of the opinion that the Latin-Americas and the Caribbean and probably some Asian countries will be there before us. Why? Because I think the capitalist influence is still too strong in our land. It appears to me that our "socialist supporters" are more so in "lip service" than in actual fact. A foot in both camps! Two bob each way so to speak. And why do I think this way? Simply, the response to The Guardian Press Fund. Nobody is prepared to boost the appeal, but every week the editor has to appeal, beg for contributions to try and reach the annual target. I consider this a sad reflection on the real belief and sincerity of those who purport in the realisation of socialism. It is not going to be handed to you on a platter. And one way to take part in this life changing struggle is to support the workers' paper. B Appleton
Woy Woy, NSW
Jackie Kelly, the Member for Lindsay, talks about a "Renaissance Centre" for Science in Western Sydney. There is such a centre already. It is called the University of Western Sydney, a centre of Science and all round excellence. This University, like all Australian Universities, famed for their research and talent, has been hard hit by Howard's horrendous HECS hike! A massive, crippling increase in student charges by the Member for Lindsay's government, to which she agreed without the whisp of a whimper. Now we have promises about a "board" to discuss promises about promises, while talented young Australians are despairing, and descending into ever deepening and dangerous depression. Hyperbolic, horrendous, hypocrisy from the Howard Government! Denis Kevans
Wentworth Falls, NSW
Of course Rumsfeld approved torture. He brokered sales of lethal micro-organisms to Saddam Hussein knowing they would end up weaponised, so why would he have qualms about torture? (Congressional Record: September 20, 2002 (Senate) Page S8987-S8998) Gareth SmithBack to index page
Byron Bay, NSW