Write on: Letters to the editor

Issue 

Gothenburg

I've now read dozens of letters on dozens of web sites almost identical to Warwick Carter's spleen-venting at the Gothenburg protesters (Write on, GLW #454). Nearly all end "I was sympathetic before but now I think you deserved to be shot", as Carter's does.

Maybe such sentiments are a genuine backlash in Sweden (certainly the media's assault of the protesters has been furious and some will have been swayed). Or maybe this is a peculiarly polite, Swedish version of the orchestrated hate-mail that floods the in-boxes of organisers after every major anti-capitalist demonstration. Somehow, I suspect the latter.

Carter disputes my account of the shootings, claims that I "warped" the facts to suit my purposes and that I am no better than the "corporate networks".

My report quoted one eyewitness account by a protester, but I could easily have quoted many, many more. My report referred to one clip of video footage (from Swedish TV), but I likewise could have referred to plenty of others.

They all prove that the "Reclaim the City" street party where the shootings happened were entirely peaceful before police waded in and that, whatever protesters did do (defending themselves with rocks, how dare they!), they didn't deserve to get shot in the guts for it.

But don't believe me: check it out for yourself. There are heaps of text accounts and clips of video footage on the Independent Media Center sites ( and ).

And while the Swedish TV footage I saw has since been taken off that channel's site, there is perfectly clear footage from Belgian TV on the IMC site: protester throws a stone, retreats, gets shot.

Watch the footage and then answer Carter's question for yourself: is the alternative better than what we have, given what we have includes police shooting unarmed demonstrators?

Sean Healy
Darlinghurst NSW

Geoff Clark

Chris Slee (Write on, GLW #454) claims that my article in GLW #453 seemed to be "implying that because there was no successful prosecution [of Geoff Clark], the accusations [of rape by the four women] were probably untrue."

We are not in a position to decide whether or not the accusations are true. What the article pointed out is that "There is no legal basis for the corporate media to declare Clark guilty" (my emphasis).

There has been no police investigation, no court case, no trial where Clark and the women who have made the accusations have a chance to put their case to a jury.

Slee continues, "the legal system is notoriously bad at dealing with rape. Most rapes are not reported, and only a small proportion of reported rapes lead to convictions".

That the legal system is bad at dealing with issues of rape is indisputable. But Slee misses the point. To take a stand against the media campaign does not require us to side with Clark in assuming his innocence, nor does it require us to dismiss the possibility that the women concerned are telling the truth.

To take a stand against the media campaign, and to refuse to be drawn into the speculation over Clark's (and others') guilt or innocence, helps to underline the fundamental issue that the way the discussion is being conducted is totally inappropriate.

Slee asserts "GLW has not supplied any real evidence of such a conspiracy."

There's certainly no evidence that anybody sat around a table plotting this attack on ATSIC. Whatever the Age's initial motivation was in running the rape accusations against Clark, it's the response to those allegations which clarifies the broader political agenda being pursued - to discredit ATSIC, undermine its credibility and political authority.

Sarah Stephen
Dulwich Hill NSW [Abridged]

What's left in Labor?

Around 60 people attended a policy conference organised by the Victorian pledge faction of the Australian Labor Party on July 1. The conference was entitled "Building the Left within Labor". It's stated aim was to generate discussion with social movement activists, to help develop policy initiatives within the Victorian Labor left faction.

Pledge faction representative and conference organiser Lev Lafayette presented a rather confused argument, jumbling concepts of united and popular fronts, conflating revolutionary and reformist strategy, and decrying the blockades of Nike and the World Economic Forum as immoral acts as they "were not supported by the workers on site".

Discussion of the plenary centred around Lafayette's outrageous claims against the legitimacy of activist blockades, as well as the practical exclusion of the Socialist Alliance from the platform.

After around 40 minutes of debate the chairperson closed the meeting and most attendees retired to the bar to enjoy a red wine and console themselves that the Labor left would rise again.

Graham Matthews
Melbourne