Letters

George Bush

As the sun sets on an American empire sliding into recession, it is time to pay tribute to the enduring efforts of George Bush whose end of term rapidly approaches. Is he the greatest simpleton out of America to ever lurch across the world stage, or insane war criminal that has made America number one rogue state in his axis of evil jingoism?

Well both really, since full credit should be given to Bush for dedicated maintenance of traditional American values of hypocrisy and self interest while supporting corrupt brutal regimes and dictators or democratic sycophants who do what they are told.

His record reveals a mindless commitment to the cause which surpassed all before him: unprovoked cowardly invasion of a defenseless Iraq based on lies, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands men, women and children; invasion and destruction of the entire political and social fabric of Afghanistan, leaving it in chaos; unprecedented assertion of executive power which acknowledged torture as an instrument of war and showcased Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Bagram airbase as major US “rendition” theatres of its phony “war on terror”. This man, whose war service consisted of flying aircraft over Texas during the Vietnam War, unfortunately will not preside over the inevitable inglorious booting out of his countrymen from Iraq – as was the result in Vietnam. Lucky for him and America’s opposition to the International Criminal Court, he has escaped being turned over to a war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Yet, lucky for the world, he has run out of time to lash out and attack Iran just as, in the face of defeat in Vietnam, America had attacked Cambodia.

Perhaps it is fitting, that as a final gesture, after making the world a significantly more dangerous place, and establishing his country as the most hated throughout the whole Middle East, he should destabilise the world financial systems as a result of his deregulated US banks policy. He will be remembered as the moron president who remained as ignorant of the past as he was of the future; who viewed the world through bomb sights, and in his bid for the Nobel Prize for stupidity, could truly say: “Mission accomplished”.

Keith Mobbs
Lane Cove, NSW

Venezuela

In his article “Venezuela: from ‘third way’ to socialist revolution” (DA #4), Marcus Pabian says: “The April 13 workers’ and soldiers’ revolution took real power away from the capitalist class and created a new base of state power for the Chavez government, making his government one that could not just talk, but act, as a working people’s government.” Certainly the defeat of the military coup against Chavez in April 2002 weakened the capitalist class and strengthened the working class and its allies. It was an important step in taking “real power” away from the capitalists. But it didn’t totally destroy the power of the capitalist class. Their “real power” was reduced but not eliminated.

Even today the capitalists still have a significant amount of power. Despite important nationalisations, they still own a substantial part of the means of production, which gives them economic power (including the ability to create artificial shortages of certain goods). They still own the bulk of the media, which gives them the ability to exert ideological influence over the population. The police and judiciary are still pro-capitalist, which means that the bourgeoisie still controls some elements of state power. This power is still being used to oppress the workers and peasants. The charges against union leader Stalin Perez Borges and 21 workers of the Fundimeca fan assembly plant in Valencia for their actions during an industrial dispute are an example of this (see “Campaign in solidarity with unionists”, by Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly #765, September 3). Similarly, the pro-capitalist civil service bureaucracy is still able to obstruct, delay or distort the implementation of some progressive measures.

Comrade Pabian compares Venezuela to Cuba. Certainly there are similarities, but Venezuela is advancing in a socialist direction much more slowly than Cuba did after the January 1959 revolution. In Cuba the old army and police were immediately disbanded, and began to be replaced by a new revolutionary army and police force, and a popular militia. All large capitalist enterprises had been expropriated by October 1960. (See my pamphlet, Cuba: how the workers and peasants made the revolution, Resistance Books, 2008.)

The Venezuelan revolution has made big gains in a range of areas – including health, education, public ownership of a substantial part of the means of production, and the creation of new forms of popular organisation, such as the social missions and the communal councils. But it is important to be realistic about the obstacles that still remain.

Chris Slee
Melbourne

Abortion

According to the Socialist Alliance’s Gender Agenda, abortion should be “remove[d] from all state Crimes Acts and Health acts” and made “available safely, free of charge and on demand through the public health-care system”. However, at a recent Melbourne pro-choice meeting, three SA members — two of whom are also members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), which describes itself as a “Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance” – spent half-an-hour arguing it was “tactically” better that the October 4 pro-choice rally demand “affordable” (cost associated) abortion rather than “free” abortion as this was “where people were at” and that this would “broaden” the rally. Not only did this argued “tactical” orientation contradict SA’s position on abortion but also its long-standing position on the provision of free, universal healthcare.

In attempting to explain why they argued for “affordable” abortion, SA members Trent Hawkins, Fiona Roberts and Kimberly Yu, in a letter to Green Left Weekly (#772), stated that calling for free abortion “merely rhetoric”. Instead, they claim it is better to water down a key demand of the women’s liberation movement and not argue in support of their party’s stated position in order “to guarantee we get support from Pro-Choice Victoria groups”.

In arguing this, they provided a textbook example of opportunism. Clearly what they fail to understand is any attempt to rebuild a united movement for the liberation of women, or any other oppressed group, must first be built on demands reflecting the objective needs of the oppressed, not on the watering down of demands to accommodate to the subjective outlook of middle-class liberals (who accept the neoliberal capitalist ideology that healthcare should be privately funded).

The DSP-SA’s opportunist argument isn’t surprising, however, as over the past two years, the DSP-SA has increasingly moved rightward in relation to women’s rights. For example, at a 2007 initiated SA pro-choice rally, which involved only DSP members masquerading as the SA, DSP members carried placards stating they were “pro-family”. However, the DSP’s own document, Feminism and Socialism, notes that the oppression of women in capitalist society is “instituted through the family system”, that via the family system “women ceased to have an independent place in social production” and “their productive role was determined by the family to which they belonged, by the man to whom they were subordinate”. As a result, “this economic dependence determined the second-class social status of women” and worked to “buttress class division and maintain the private accumulation of wealth”.

Kim Bullimore
Brunswick, Victoria