Letters to the editor
With media diversity under attack and the right to dissent under threat by the Howard government, dissenting alternatives such as GLW become even more important — or so you would think.
Not so for a majority at the October 11 Parramatta Peace Group (PPG) meeting, who decided, (by seven to four and after several heated meetings discussing this topic) to ban GLW and other radical papers from its meetings, events or actions. Even leaflets, advertising other group's activities, are henceforth banished.
That the censorship motion was moved by a member of the International Socialist Organisation — meaning that it's paper, Socialist Worker, is also banned — is even more to be regretted.
The strength of the peace movement lies in its diversity; traditionally, it has involved activists from different backgrounds coming together to try and stop wars. For the movement to stay relevant, and help shape public policy relies on its diversity and breadth.
But it is simply not the case, as some in the ISO seem to think, that papers like GLW or SW contribute to narrowing the movement. Discussion about what to do next in the movement — a discussion that is largely to be found in papers such as GLW and SW in Australia — can and does assist activists' thinking.
Facilitating the free flow of ideas is an important part of the struggle against John "McCarthy" Howard, and his ilk. Censorship and restrictions on discussion are the tools of those with something to hide. The last thing we need is for progressive activists to act in an arbitrary and authoritarian fashion.
The banning of the distribution of progressive papers and other material sets a bad precedent and should be opposed. Write to us at GLW, and forward a copy to Socialist Worker (<email@example.com>, if you agree.
Graham Matthews &
The issue of global warming is urgent in the context of the present drought.
In spite of evidence that southern Australia's climate having became 20% drier in the last decade than between 1885 and 1996, governments still pursue policies that will exacerbate the decline. It is quite probable, indeed, that within a decade there might be no runoff at all into Melbourne's water storages.
Your revelations (GLW #622, #669, #676) of how the "greenhouse mafia" of fossil fuel and car companies control government energy and transport policy was urgently needed.
Earlier this year, the Bracks government announced there would be no further extension to a grossly inadequate public transport system over the next decade and backed down from an appalling target of 20% public transport modal share. The only possible rationale for this insane policy is politicians being direct representatives of car companies.
Since 1988 Australia has gone from having the world's dearest cars to the cheapest: real prices of luxury cars have fallen by 40% while real public transport fares have increased 45% over the same period.
My brother recently adjudicated a debate asking whether car companies should pay for environmental damages they have caused. If we want to combat climate change the entire wealth of car companies must first be redirected to build an urban mass transit system with services not every hour, but every five minutes or less, to all suburbs. Even after factoring in electricity use by public transport, abolishing urban car travel would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and cost 10% of the cost of Melbourne's freeways.
It's time all Australians realise how rapidly climate change is occurring and demand a truly radical policy to give us greater mobility and a giant step towards a sustainable society.
I write in response to your article "Taiwan: campaign to oust president heats up" in GLW #684 which I saw online. I have been a grassroots activist for 10 years and a ground-level union organiser since 1997, and am a member of the Green Party in the US and consider myself a green-left anarcho-syndicalist. I'm also a Taiwanese-American and support Taiwanese independence. What continues to irk me is how the Western "left" press keeps hypocritically knocking the independence movement simply because it's "Red" China with which the Taiwanese do not want this ludicrous forced marriage. China carries the "communist" label but is neither left nor green.
What's happening in Taiwan is quite similar to what's happened in Venezuela. The right-wing Chinese aristocrats-in-exile in Taiwan own a vast majority of the press and the two "opposition" parties that are the main driving forces behind this "movement" by the ex-DPP flunkie Shih Ming-the. The Nationalist party (KMT) in Taiwan continues to be the single wealthiest political party on the planet after 50+ years of parasitic rule over Taiwanese workers... it even pays for the lodging and meals of Shih's red-shirt "protesters" in Taipei. Now it sees profits and social station by kowtowing to China and suddenly it's our comrade-in-arms?
The biggest divide between Western left and Western labour is the inability of left academics to truly trust working people (or people of colour, for that matter) to make the best decisions for themselves.
As a once-illegal-immigrant kid who grew up in a dilapidated blue-collar black-Mexican neighbourhood and ended up in liberal activist circles, I have found white middle-class "revolutionaries" both laudable and irritating. "I want to help you because I don't respect you or your decisions." Venezuelan workers chose Chavez because they knew what they want. Taiwanese workers chose Chen because they knew what they want. Trust them!
I couldn't help but notice a number of factual inaccuracies in your article concerning Ecuador's elections (GLW #685). Rafael Correa, the current leader in the polls to replace Alfredo Palacio, was a lecturer at La Universidad San Francisco (not La Catolica). Additionally, he was not forced to resign; he stood down on his own after selling bonds to Venezuela without first seeking the approval of the president. Sources close to Correa say that he hadn't expected his resignation to be accepted, since he was, at the time, the most popular minister in Palacio's cabinet. Nevertheless, Palacio, sensing that Correa was becoming bigger than his government, let him go. As you can see, there was no forcing involved at all.
In terms of analysis, I think your article misunderstands a lot about how politics works in Ecuador. Without a party to ally with in congress, Correa will have a hard time passing any laws (he also wants to give presidents the power to throw out congress, a point missed by your author). He has also failed to answer how he would avoid having the constitutional assembly filled with the same political parties from whom he wants to take power.
I am a strong supporter of the left, but I am not a blind supporter of the left. By putting forward incorrect information without strong analysis, GLW is doing as much a disservice as the Washington Post and others who see all South American politics as pro and anti-Chavez when the reality is much more complicated.