Letters from our readers

4 December 2010

On “Diplomatic secrecy and imperialist crimes

How to protect Julian Assange? Though Assange has not ‘participated’ in a revolution, led and set forth a political philosophy, et cetera, he has done a revolutionary act and continues to do so. As shown in Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy on Trotsky, how hounded, betrayed and outcast he was, I’m wondering if Assange will become the target of America as Trotsky was of Stalin.

The hypocrisy of American leaders, elected and appointed, is astounding. “...blood on his hands...” as declared by Joe Lieberman, who campaigned for America to war on Iraq, calls for America to war on Iran—is this what America has in for the world?

Michael S
30 November 2010

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As Bill Van Auken’s exposure of the hypocrisy and malicious, anti-democratic character of the attack against the new WikiLeaks exposures points out, there is indeed precedent in the stand of Trotsky and Socialist Internationalism against secret diplomacy. Further elaboration of the historical context exposes the long-term duplicity of imperialism.

Speaking to a joint session of Congress on January 18, 1918 as to the principles of peace for the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson stated as the very first point of his Fourteen Points: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

He was obliged in part to do this because the rush to war in 1914 had been secured by secret alliances, published by the new communist government of Russia by the time of Wilson’s speech, against Germany by “democratic” France and Britain with the Russian Tsarist dictatorship, agreements which would have been widely opposed by the working class in the period before the spark of war was ignited. Perhaps even more, Wilson was forced to respond with a deceitful statement of principle because of the declaration already made by Lenin on November 7, 1917, in a speech before the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies upon the overthrow of the Provisional Government.

Lenin stated: “One of our urgent tasks is to put an immediate end to the war. It is clear to everybody that in order to end this war, which is closely bound up with the present capitalist system, capital itself must be fought. We shall be helped in this by the world working-class movement, which is already beginning to develop in Italy, Britain and Germany. The proposal we make to international democracy for a just and immediate peace will everywhere awaken an ardent response among the international proletarian masses. All the secret treaties must be immediately published in order to strengthen the confidence of the proletariat.”

In the ensuing imperialist discussions around the Versailles Treaty, Wilson allowed the agenda of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 for the partition of the Ottoman Empire and Middle East by Britain and France, which the Russian Communists published, to be put into effect. Wilson, of course, must have been thinking ahead to how the maintenance of imperialism would favor the growth of America’s role. The present military aggression by the US in the Middle East is one of the consequences.

HL
30 November 2010

On “The legacy of Leonard Bernstein: a book review

Fred Mazelis’ review of the political biography of Bernstein is very good and insightful. Though he writes, “A detailed discussion of Adorno’s work is far beyond the scope of this review...”, it is such articles which are helpful to young persons getting their early exposure to Marxism and cultural aesthetics. For all its intellectual muscle flexing and empty intimidations post-modernism is sterile and essentially anti-people. The strength of Fred’s article is its right identification of the Frankfurt ‘school’ as Frankfurt Anti-Marxists. Fred can go on to make a more comprehensive assessment of post-Marx anti-Marxist venom and help readers of WSWS see through Adorno and his ilk.

MRC
Chennai, India
30 November 2010

On “The US Congress and the unemployed

People who are unemployed and have no other sources of income do not contribute to the economy in any meaningful way. The government’s response to their absence will be to print more money, offer it to the banks free of charge in hopes that destitute people will borrow it at high interest in order to purchase shoddy goods at inflated prices. We will become a nation of indentured servants and I anticipate in the coming years that Visa and Mastercard will bypass vendors altogether and open their own “company stores”.

PK
30 November 2010

On “China imposes price controls as inflation threatens social unrest

I wonder whether a classic “scissor” is opening up between the city and the countryside, not only in China but all over the world. As you know, the term arose from the economics debates in the Soviet Union in the 1920’s during a retreat of NEP period. It referred to the relatively rapid growth of the agricultural sector and the slow recovery of the industrial sector, that is, the ability of farmers to produce crops, the upward end of the scissor, and the inability of cities to supply commodities in exchange, the lower end. This led in the course of time to massive, if passive resistance in the countryside, growing scarcity and problems with capital accumulation in the cities.

Stalin tried brutally and never managed to close the scissor, leaving the problem till the final capitulation of Stalinism and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Recently, Stiglitz has become concerned with this scissor in the global picture, showing how the most astute representatives of the capitalist class, for instance China’s leadership, see the danger ahead.

It should be remembered that while Soviet leaders of the revolutionary period were the most conscious and conscientious in studying the problem, they knew well that the Soviet economy remained part of the global economy. Indeed, it would be worthwhile to understand events in China from the perspective of what happened in Eastern Europe in this period in places like Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. These were agricultural countries with immense surpluses exporting to the West which could not repay in commodities because they were rebuilding their industries under the impossible barriers of the nation-state system on the ruins of the first World War.

It was the same problem of capital accumulation from financial speculation that we are facing today. There was not enough returns from industry, so the smart money went to Eastern Europe, just as it had after the collapse of the Stalinist regimes. This was how the Canadian financial aristocratic Reichmann family accumulated its first wealth with the patriarch of the family cornering the egg market in Eastern Europe using credit from Austrian banks. Of course, the scissor was operative here as elsewhere. The Austrian banking system collapsed in 1931, spreading ruin to agricultural production across the world. Austrian banks are even today similarly invested in Eastern Europe. Just to stay with the family, the Reichmann’s bought up Hungarian collective farms at cheap prices and saved themselves in 1991 when their Canary Wharf property speculation in London turned into a disaster. Of course, now these “investments” have to show a return, hence in a collapsing economy, the capitalist class becomes aware of the scissor and proposes models and formulas, which will have little effect, as China’s leadership will find.

“May you live interesting times,” is said to be a Chinese curse. These are indeed interesting times.

Andrew L
Toronto, Canada
30 November 2010

On “One hundred arts organisations face destruction from UK budget cuts

The pertinent point about the cutting of regional and other small theatres is that this will stifle artistic creativity by pushing for the type of material that is “commercial” and that will bring in cash. This is obviously what the equivalent of means testing will amount to. True artistic exploration will be considered—conveniently—as something that does not “pay”. Of course, this is intended to discourage any works that are critical of society or any truthful political works. Artists will be afraid of losing funding if they don’t produce the kind of pap that somnolises vast audiences and rakes in profits from the dozing bums on seats. Safe, boring, and dead. Not a slap in the face in sight.

Carolyn
California, USA
29 November 2010

On “Portugal passes austerity budget as speculative attack on Spain intensifies

The whole thing reminds me of scavengers and cannibalism over the dead body of capitalism.

Stephanie N
BC, Canada
28 November 2010

On “Ireland’s main opposition parties signal support for austerity budget

Ireland, Greece, now Portugal are facing austerity programs to keep their countries from going bankrupt. And in the US where there is 10 percent unemployment, foreclosures, etc., the rich are buying $75,000 cars from Neiman Marcus, hiring singers to come to sing at their parties, and the sales of $500 dollar or less jewelry is falling into the basement, but sales of jewelry over that amount is skyrocketing.

I am really getting tired of reading about these austerity programs that hurt the poor and middle class. They said that corporations in the US had a record profit of over 1 trillion dollars this quarter, yet people are living hand to mouth existences. In European countries they are wanting to raise the retirement age, cutting benefits for the poor. Why is it always the poor that loses out? Why doesn’t any country do a little bit of “income redistribution”? Rich people pay less taxes than I. Rich people complain at the costs of sending their spoiled children to private schools while poor people are trying to scrimp enough money together for a reduced lunch payment. Rich kids drive a Hummer to school. Poorer kids can’t find enough change for a bus ticket. Something has to give in this whole idea about who needs to fund the austerity programs.

Thank you.

Patricia G

On “The Korean crisis and the threat of a wider war

I can’t see any American or South Korean military stratagem that can take the military initiative from the North. In a month or two they can sink another South Korean warship or shell another Island. What the Southern Government does then it could do now. But it does nothing beyond making speeches that grow more incendiary as the weakness of their position becomes more apparent. There is no possible large-scale military assault on the North that would not leave the South in ruins. And any nuclear assault on the North may either lead directly to nuclear strikes on the South or lead to an ‘accidental’ nuclear strike on China. Ending at the least the existence of the South as a country. So I predict lots of gunboats sailing pointlessly. Lots of talks between China /USA and China/North Korea. And a repeat of the attack within six months unless the Southern government ‘ponies up’ with the food and medicines for the North. Its a new historical phenomenon that arrived with nuclear weapons. No matter how economically developed a state becomes it remains vulnerable to annihilation by any neighboring nuclear state. No matter how poor this state is otherwise.

Chris
Ireland
27 November 2010

On “US: The millionaires’ Congress

There’s not a lot one can say about these pathetic parasites who tell you what you have to pay, and there’s the reason personal wealth. Whilst thousands of Americans who are languishing on and below the bread line, often can’t afford to pay their food bills and facing utility shut offs. One has to wonder when reading these statistics of the rich what it takes for the working class to say enough’s enough. The international unity of the working class is the only answer, to stopping these parasites of life from doing what they are doing. Greed is inherent within capitalist society. Whether a businessman or capitalist politician, yes, democracy certainly pays for them and they are in a minority.

Malcolm B
UK
26 November 2010

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