Write On: Letters to the editor

November 18, 2009

Left results in Germany

I read with keen interest the article by Duroyan Fertl (GLW #813) about the results of the recent national elections in Germany.

Some readers would have been surprised to read that: "It was the first time in German history a party to the left of the SPD (Social-Democratic Party) scored more than 10% in a national poll." Not so.

In March of 1932 KPD (Communist Party) leader Thaelmann scored 13.2% in the Presidential elections, then 10.2% against Hindenburg, who was supported by the SPD, in the April run-off.

Then in the Reichstag elections of July 1932 the KPD received 14.6% of the vote (SPD 21.6%).

In the Reichstag elections of November 1932 the KPD won 16.9% and the treacherous SPD 20.4%. This was the last free election of the Weimar Republic at which the Nazi vote collapsed by 2 million votes to 33.1%.

This didn't deter Hindenburg from appointing Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933. (From The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany by Leon Trotsky, Resistance Books — a wonderful, richly informative read).

Have our German comrades forgotten their own history and therefore the lessons it can teach? What strikes me is that in class terms the SPD, unsurprisingly continues to support capitalism and its political agents today as it did 70 years ago with disastrous consequences including a world war from 1939 to 1945.

Dave Bell
Orange, NSW

Pro-atom politicians

While 'Climate Change: Nuclear no answer' (GLW #815) is certainly true, it is not so for many politicians. And this is for five reasons.

First, pro-atom politicians can shuffle multi-million dollars of tax money to multinational corporations who build such power stations (Siemens, etc.).

Second, one needs the state because no private company would ever insure such a power station against an accident that could potentially destroy half of Europe (e.g. Chernobyl!) or Australia for that matter.

Third, all problems (increased cancer rates, atom rubbish, etc.) can be offloaded to future generations who have to deal with it (for up to 24.000 years) — long after all pro-atom politicians have retired or died or both.

Fourth, one does not need to really change the public's mind towards sustainable living.
Changing from squandering towards sustainability might turn out to be hard.

And finally, pro-atom politicians can assure the public that wastefulness is no problem because atomic energy supplies plenty of power.

Thomas Klikauer
Coogee, NSW

Elites want population growth

While politicians and "experts" like to inform us of the benefits of population growth in our cities, ignoring the problems it creates needs to be addressed by the community.

The consequences of rapid population growth can be seen in most major cities in the world: homelessness, crime, and inequality.

Why? While population growth has gone hand in hand with increased private wealth and rising living standards it has been paralleled by the rise of ruthless migrant labour contractors, the growth of sham labour contracts in the transport and cleaning industries, and the outsourcing of work to reduce labour costs.

An economy driven by the pursuit of private wealth and envy needs population growth to grow consumer markets and create a reserve army of workers to put pressure on wages growth. Australia now has one of the most highly casualised and underemployed workforces in the world.

Raising taxes for infrastructure investment to help sustain population growth ignores the underlying problem. For too long the agenda has been controlled by politicians and market economists, not the community.

The same people who took the world to the edge of an economic catastrophe because of their blind faith in free markets are now behind the push to grow our population to record levels.

John Glazebrook
Endeavour Hills, Vic

How to describe Labor?

Pro-war, pro-coal spin-meister Kevin Rudd has done at least one useful thing in his appalling two years as PM — he has introduced the term "scum" into the language of public debate.

Rudd has described "people smugglers" as "the scum of the earth … the vilest form of human life … the lowest form of human life".

If those helping several thousand desperate refugees find haven in Australia are "scum", how then do you describe the genocidal racist Zionists, pro-Zionists, warmongers, war criminals and war-makers of the US alliance (including Australia) who created the estimated 18-20 million Muslim refugees in the first place?

There are 7 million Palestinian refugees (Australia supports apartheid Israel and makes financial support for Palestinian genocide tax deductible), 5-6 million Iraqi genocide refugees (there are still Australian troops in occupied Iraq), and 3-4 million Afghan genocide refugees plus a further 2.5 million Pashtun refugees from north-west Pakistan (Labor increased our troops in occupied Afghanistan).

In addition, Australia continues to support the ongoing Tamil genocide (Tamil activists here are declared to be "terrorists" while hundreds of thousands of Tamils are confined to concentration camps in Sri Lanka) — what then for climate refugees from Australia-led Climate genocide?

Dr Gideon Polya
Macleod, Vic

Information and propaganda

Thank you for printing my letter about "senior journalists" getting free trips to Israel, paid for by Zionist groups, and undeclared in the media they work for (GLW #814). Those journalists were Paul Sheehan (Sydney Morning Herald), Janet Albrectsen (Australian, and ABC board member), Jacinta Tynan (Sky News) and Peter Charley (SBS).

I had written that Charley was producer of SBS's Insight. In fact, he is executive producer of SBS's current affairs show Dateline. I believe this makes it a rather more serious matter.

In 2007, two journalists at the SMH went on a similar visit to Israel. Sam North, then managing editor, wrote to me: "They (journalists Tom Allard and Paul Sheehan) undertook the trips with the approval of the Herald because we believe it adds to their knowledge of one of the most volatile areas of the world …

"Both Mt Sheehan and Mr Allard are experienced journalists and we are certain that their professionalism enables them [to] differentiate between information and propaganda." (letter dated April 3, 2007).

Nonsense! When information is given partially and without context, then it amonts to propaganda. For instance, the shelling of Sderot had virtually stopped four months before Israel's slaughter in Gaza; but it is rarely reported in that way. For Sam North to claim there is a clear line between "information" and "propaganda", speaks volumes.

Stephen Langford
Paddington, NSW

Social roots of women's oppression

Chris Latham made a good point in his letter 'Violence against Women' (GLW #817). "Combating violence against women requires an understanding of its cause", he said.

But he is unfair in accusing Jess Moore of missing this.

He criticised Moore's article (GLW #814), which drew the links between poverty and domestic violence, for lacking an analysis of the social roots of women's oppression. But in doing so he overlooked another article by Moore in the same issue of GLW that did just that.

This article, titled "Sexism and queerphobia's social basis" pointed to the emergence of private property, the division of society into classes and women's subordinate role in the family system as the root cause of women's oppression today.

Simon Butler
Glebe, NSW