15TH - 28TH APRIL 2011
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Pages 2 Ken Loach urges voters to support the SSP Page 3 There is an alternative to the madness of capitalism!
A SCOTTISH SOCIALIST PARTY PUBLICATION
SAY NO TO THE CUTS! SAY YES TO SOCIALISM!
VOTE SSP x
SUPPORT THE SSP VOTE SSP
THE Scottish Socialist Party has recieved the backing of the award winning film director Ken Loach. Ken has sent the party a message of support cacking the SSP in the 5 May election, he said: “I am very pleased to support the campaign of the SSP in the coming election. “All across Europe people are finding their jobs threatened, wages and benefits cut and the quality of life reduced. “The great public institutions that have been built by past generations are now to be dismembered, sold off, privatised. “Blaming the bankers is not an adequate response. Socialists know that it is not individual greed but the very system itself that generates these disasters. Private
KEN LOACH AND COLIN FOX corporations and banks will always put profit before people, otherwise they would not keep up with their competitors.
“Only a party that starts from the independent interests of working people can begin to redress the balance.
A manifesto for change!
FIGHTBACK: Frances Curran, Colin Fox and Jim Bollan the manifesto launch
THE SSP has launched its manifesto for the Holyrood election. A manifesto against cuts, against warmongering, against the madness of this capitalist system which kills feeds on the suffering of ordinary people. The manifesto can be downloaded at www.scottishsocialistparty.org.
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“A secure job, care for the elderly, a good education independent of private interests, a fully funded health service, decent housing - these are not unreasonable demands. “But now they are revolutionary. The system cannot allow them. Which other party, to take but one example, now calls for full employment? “Scotland has a long history of radical struggle, like the great cities of England. “We should show solidarity with those around the world who fight for justice, peace and the rule of law. “Socialism is the heart of that. A strong vote for the SSP would be the best news for ordinary people wherever they live. And it would be brilliant for Scotland - you might find some of us were coming to work here even more than we do now!”
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE! by Colin Fox THE BBC published an poll highlighting the issues voters considered most important in the Holyrood election. Top of the ‘pops’ was a commitment to reduce waiting times for cancer treatment, second extra ‘bobbies on the beat’ and third retaining tuition free university education. What’s noticeable about all 25 preferences listed is that there is no tolerance of public spending cuts. Each favoured policy involved maintaining current levels of service or expanding them. The only cut that was popular was to the salaries of public sector CEO’s. These findings coincide with the Scottish Socialist Party’s view that the cuts proposed by all four neo-liberal parties in Scotland are morally unjust and economically unnecessary. At hustings across the country LibDem and Tory candidates are briefed to mention Britain is paying back interest on debt at a rate of £120million per day. This is supposed to reveal just how ‘bankrupt’ Britain is and frighten us into supporting their unprecedented attack on vital public services. But two questions arise; how did the debt occur? And what proportion of UK Gross Domestic Product does £120million represent? “The UK national debt is out of control” claim Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott. But it isn’t. There have been many occasions when the GDP to debt ratio was far higher and we didn’t all run around saying ‘We’re doomed Captain Mainwaring ’! In the period after World War 2 for example the national debt was much
PHOTO: Eddie Truman
higher and it didn’t deter the Government from establishing the NHS, building houses, schools and hospitals and nationalising industry. The debt reached its current level after Gordon Brown dumped his so called economic ‘Prudence’ in favour of her wayward sister ‘PFI’. The Private Finance Initiative, invented by the Tories and loved by New Labour, was a disaster. It meant for example that a £300million hospital like the new Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh will cost the taxpayer £900million after profits to banks, builders and service companies have been factored in. Labour likes to boast about the hospitals, schools and prisons they built but don’t confess they paid way over the odds for every single one of them. And of course the national ‘credit card’ famously took another hit when Alistair Darling bailed out Britain’s greedy and reckless private banking industry. Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley and the Reckless Bank of Scotland [RBS] were all bailed
out using astonishing amounts of public money. In any just society those who caused the financial problem would be made to pay for it. But not in this country. The banks and financial corporations have our corrupt and craven politicians in their pockets. So the four neo-liberal parties in Scotland intend to pass on the cost of the crisis to the poor. Workers at Blind Craft in Edinburgh for example were paid off by LibDem/SNP Councillors determined to axe the jobs of disabled and vulnerable staff. The £120million per day being paid to service the national debt equates to less than £2 per person per day. Most of us pay more than that to MasterCard, not to mention the building society and the other rocketing costs of living. Yet its true that this election is the most important the Scottish Parliament has faced. It is the first to be fought with a reduced budget. The choice then is between the ‘knifeman’ and the nurse who provides that important specialist cancer care, between ‘cuts Cameron’
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and the constable, and between Clegg and his plans to nick university education from working class kids. As usual New Labour offers no principled opposition to the Tories. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls shamefully supports 80 per cent of the ConDem cuts but argues limply they should be administered more slowly! The SNP offers no alternative either. They simply pass on the cuts and make the needy endure even greater hardship. In Council’s across Scotland they are closing schools and sacking staff with the worst of them. The SSP’s message by contrast is unequivocal - ‘No cuts, not now, not ever’. Our proposal to replace the hated Council tax with a graduated income tax would bring in an extra £1.5billion to the Holyrood treasury. There would therefore be no need for any cuts in services in Scotland. Just think of it no Council tax in Scotland either? We don’t have tuition fees, prescription charges, bridge tolls, charges for elderly care. We do things differently here. And we need to go further, much further. The SSP offers a radical vision to voters as opposed to the myopia of our opponents. We see Scotland as independent, a republic where we are not bombing Libya, not occupying Afghanistan, not threatening the world with nuclear annihilation, not privatising vital public services, not cow towing to un-elected heads of state, not answerable to anyone but ourselves. There is an alternative that doesn’t involve cuts, warmongering, privatisation, grotesque inequalities or monarchs. Vote SSP on 5 May.
TAKING THE HIGH ROAD
On the campaign trail in the Highland & Islands
by Pam Currie The vast, sparsely populated spaces of the Highlands and Island are not what most people call to mind when they think of socialist ideas. Instead, attention turns to the urban slums which created the Paris Commune and spread socialist ideas through Europe at the turn of the 20th century, or more recently the peripheral housing schemes and city tenements which gave birth to the anti-Poll Tax movement and on which the SSP’s success in 2003 was largely built. Look beyond the picturepostcard views, however, and socialist ideas have a far from marginal place in Scotland’s rural communities. A long-standing radical tradition resisting Clearances and oppressive landlords has given way to communities blighted by low pay, seasonal unemployment, fuel poverty and high transport costs. While towns such as Inverness, Dunoon, Rothesay and Campbeltown experience many of the same problems of poverty and deprivation as the central belt – poor housing, drug misuse and unemployment – much of the poverty in the region is hidden. In many areas, housing is in chronic shortage, with prices vastly outstripping local wages – a situation which can only worsen as the government launches attacks on housing benefit. Communities face concerns over their future as young people flood to the Central Belt in search of work or affordable housing, while those who remain face crippling transport costs and limited opportunities.
The SSP is the only party offering policies which can not only address rural poverty, but create a different type of society which would create sustainable communities in rural areas. The question for the SSP in this election, however, is how to get our policies to the voters in a region the size of Belgium! The seat stretches from Campbeltown in the south to Thurso in the north – and that doesn’t include Orkney and Shetland, as the seat also takes in almost all of Scotland’s inhabited islands (Arran and Cumbrae fall under West). The SSP has had a difficult time in recent years, and our vote fell from 9,000 in 2003 to around 900 in 2007. We are back on our feet in 2011, however, and making links once again with socialists throughout the region. SSP activists including regional list candidates Pam Currie, Linda Howie and Andi Rossetter were out and about in the southern end of the seat last week – covering the towns of Oban, Fort William, Dunoon and
Rothesay with a combination of street stalls, photo opportunities and door to door canvassing, and received a warm response wherever we went. Further activity is planned in the northern end of the seat – with huge distances between towns, we are taking tents and heading for the hills with our election bulletins! We hope to visit Inverness and Dingwall before moving on to Caithness and the West Highlands, with further activity planned in Campbeltown and
Islay between now and polling day. Despite our best efforts, we cannot hope to cover the full seat, so online activity has been key to our campaign – we have a blog set up at http://ssphighlands.blogspot.com documenting our adventures, and @ssphighlands on twitter. If you are able to help with the campaign – even if it’s just emailing campaign material to friends and family in the Highlands – drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SSP ELECTION APPEAL If you would like to make a financial donation to the SSP election fund you can do so in the following ways. Send a cheque made out to the Scottish Socialist Party Election Fund to the party’s national office at 93 Hope Street Glasgow. Contact us for details of how to pay direct into our election fund account: Phone or text Jim Mc Vicar on 07810205747 with the details of your pledge /donation and we will get back to you with details on how to make your donation alternately email email@example.com. Thanks for all your support.
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WHO OWNS NORTH SEA OIL?
The fat cat oil companies or the people? by Raphie de Santos THE Fat cat Oil companies are bleating and threatening to withdraw up to £50 billion of investment in the North Sea oil industry because the government has levied a windfall tax of £2billion on their profits for financial year 2010/2011. This is a scandalous greedy response in a financial year when the oil companies will make record profits from North Sea oil. With oil trading on average at $90 a barrel in the latest financial year and with over the same time the Pound/US dollar exchange rate at 1.5572 while a barrel of Oil costs $US10 to produce, oil companies are set for record profits. Profit per barrel in 2010/11 will be £51.4 compared to £43.5 in the previous year and £48.4 in the last previous record year of 2008/2009. Profits from North Sea oil look set to top £50billion for this year as the oil industry has benefited from a rising oil price on the back of the Arab revolutions for democracy as well as a weak pound against the US dollar. In other words profits will be up on the previous year by nearly 20 per cent not because of any special skill that the oil companies have brought but because of peoples’ struggle for democracy and a weak UK economy. There lies the crux of the matter the Oil companies are sitting on what are in reality the planets assets and
extracting them and turning them into huge profits for themselves with very little extra work. This is a trend that is likely, even without an Arab uprising, to continue as peak oil production approaches for a finite resource and there is increasing demand for oil from the rapidly growing economies of China, India and Brazil. When the Oil companies complain about the windfall tax what they fail to tell us is that the tax on their profits has been reduced from 52 per cent in 1974 to 30 per cent today. That is worth an extra £11billion of profits a year. The Oil industry itself estimates that there are
25.6billion barrels of oil left in the North Sea that are easily extricable while independent geology experts put the number at 30billion barrels. Based on a conservative oil price of 80 US dollars a barrel, a cost of producing a barrel of 10 US dollars and Pound/US dollar exchange rate of 1.5 then North Sea oil will generate at least £50billion a year for fifteen years for the fat cat oil companies. Imagine what could be done for society as a whole with that £50billion a year? Each year you could build: 800,000 affordable social sustainable houses; or 1,000 hospitals; or 6,000 schools; or a completely new transport infrastructure;
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and have free public transport for all. This would as well as giving people hundreds of thousands of jobs would provide a transition to a non-fossil fuel economy. That’s what we can do if took North Sea Oil under the peoples ownership and control. Then there would be no whinging about spending a bit of money to produce vast amounts of wealth which could be spent in a socially useful way on the whole of society.
J The views are the author’s own and not those of any other individual or organisation.
OPEN THE DOORS! VOTE SSP
Light of the day, shine in - light of the mind, shine out! WHEN the late Edwin Morgan wrote this armswide opener, the Scottish Parliament was a minor, the new building reeked of fresh paint and nervy optimism, and the impacted earth of British politics, north of the border at least, was in the process of being turned over, ready to be sown with new seeds. Fast forward a few years and where are we? The politics of Westminster are more entrenched than ever, and the radical elements in Holyrood seem scattered to the winds. People don't talk about better things anymore, like good, free food for schoolchildren, Scottish independence, the dismantling of nuclear weapons; they just talk about how bad things are, and wonder how they'll cope if things continue to deteriorate. And while we're scrabbling to make ends meet, those distant beings at the very peak of the economic pile are finding new ways to screw us ever harder, to make us pay for what we already own, to dodge tax and pare profit from a bone. This is a frozen spring, progress dead in the ground, lifeline services and public infrastructure cold to the touch, optimism iced over. Surely this is the time to cast a safe vote, to kick out at the Tories, not that they'll even feel it, and return the devil we know. Not a time for risks, or
flights of the imagination. The spirit of open doors and shining light has been well and truly petrified by austerity. But, you know what? There's never been a better time to strike a light in the darkness, and use your vote to return a Scottish Socialist to the Scottish Parliament, rather than a hand-wringing
'realist' who tells you we must all share the pain. Why must we? We didn't cause this crisis. It's not down to extravagant public spending and civil service tea breaks. It was the overheated housing market, the subsequent near-collapse of the banks, followed by the stupendous sums of public
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money used to bail them out, that brought us to this impasse. That, and a global economic system that pushes for ever-increasing profit, whether that delivers enough food to feed us, enough homes to house us, enough jobs for us to live by, or not. In fact, while millions go
VOTE SSP without the basic things in life, such as clean water, shelter and medicine, avalanches of unwanted, unused goods pile up in warehouses, in landfill and in aid parcels that no one can use; wonderbras, film merchandise, gadgets, the accumulated detritus of a consumer culture out of control. Meanwhile, fields of spinach, mountains of oranges, whole crops of potatoes, lie rotting, because they're not up to supermarket scratch, or there is a glut in the market, caused by the supermarket system getting its orders wrong. We're not just supposed to pay for this mess, we're supposed to take responsibility for it too. It's us, you see, wanting too much, forcing the world's corporations to strip the planet, and the domestic government to strip the welfare state. If you think this sounds like a con trick, then join the queue. Or even better, join us. The SSP is built on social solidarity and the spirit of resistance to oppression, injustice and nasty con tricks that strangle communities and people's lives. We don't have time for hand-wringing. We're out there, fighting the cutbacks, the hacking to bits of our hard-won health service and public sector, the almost casual cancellation of youth clubs, patient transport systems, teaching assistants and class size promises. Life can be better than this. We have the resources, the know-how, we are just lumbered with a government that lacks the political will. We can, and should, be expanding the public sector, because more and more of us need it, and it creates jobs
and training, it holds communities together and it supports families. We should be raising the minimum wage, because we can afford to do this, through cutbacks in the defence budget and the raising of taxes on the rich, and because it helps to build strong, local economies. We should be holding onto our schools and community halls, not closing them down like we were going out of business. We should be feeding our children healthy, locally sourced food, not the
nutritionally deficient rubbish cooked up by the lowest bidder. We should be investing in sustainable energy and a fully comprehensive, free public transport system, not building nuclear power stations and motorways and subsidising motorists at the petrol pump. The future cannot be grown from starved soil and stayed hands. Nor can it be created behind closed doors. The future is ours if we make it so, and we ask you to join us and to support us in the fight for a better, fairer,
more light-filled world. This May, we are standing on every regional list in Scotland. We believe the world can be won, that we can live together as equals, and face the challenges of climate change, economic recession and social uprising together, fairly and sanely. We will always hold that there is no justice without social justice, and that if we set our minds to it, another, better world is not only possible, but impossible to resist. Come on, open the doors! Let the people in!
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JAPAN’S NUCLEAR WAKE UP CALL by Andrew Bowden IT’S already been declared the worst disaster Japan has faced since WW2 with the 6th most powerful quake since records began in 1900. Looking at the scenes coming from the disaster it’s clear that despite being a firstworld country the death toll is immense, in the tens of thousands. Natural disasters like these are often exacerbated by the man-made actions (or inaction) that occurs around them. Whether it’s the botched response in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or the destruction by hurricanes inflicted on impoverished Haiti, the way a society is organised has a direct effect on how it copes with massive natural catastrophes. As a developed country Japan probably couldn’t have done much more to stop it’s citizens being swept away by the tsunami, but it’s modernity has also made another very unnatural disaster possible – one that would not simply stop at the beaches of Japan, but has the potential to affect the entire region. The earthquake and tsunami destabilised Japan’s nuclear power stations at Fukushima, with thousands of people being evacuated, residents told to stay indoors, close their windows and not to drink tap water. France’s Nuclear safety agency increased the severity of the accident at Fukushima from level 4 to “at least level 5, or even at level 6. This was significant and extremely worrying. The International Nuclear Event Scale runs from 1 to 7, with 7 being the most serious. There has only ever been one level 7 nuclear disaster – Chernobyl, and the events at
DISASTER: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima approached only one scale behind that. Most media coverage of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima has been toned down in recent days and weeks, suggesting the emergency at the plant is over. In reality, it will take months for the plant to be brought under control - and approximately 100 years before the fuel rods can be safely removed. A small group of technicians - nicknamed the Fukushima 50 - are working round the clock to stabilise the plant, with family members reporting that some of these workers have accepted that radiation will kill them - either in weeks, or in years in the development of cancers. The events at Fukushima may be this generation’s wake up call to the dangers of Nuclear power, just as Chernobyl was to the past. There’s already been a demo of 40,000 in Germany against the nuclear power plant at Neckarwestheim, whose operational length is undergoing extension despite popular opposition. The UK already announced a new generation of Nuclear power plants over 3 years ago. The defenders of Nuclear power claim these new plants are much safer than their
previous counterparts. However the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the USA accepts that none of these new designs will be safer than old nuclear reactors when it comes to events like earthquakes. Accidents happen in the world all the time. Sometimes they are avoidable, due to malicious neglect by the unscrupulous, like the Bhopal disaster or Chernobyl itself. Others are simply tragic accidents that could not have been foreseen or stopped. We cannot stop all technology due to the risk of injury and death – people will always need to use trains for example, despite the Railtrack disasters. But we don’t need to use Nuclear power in human society, the potential disasters that can occur in Nuclear energy are much more severe than the worst disasters that happen in other aspects of man made technology. Put simply when a plane or car crashes, it does not render the surrounding environment uninhabitable and increase the cancer risks of thousands of people for hundreds of miles. Nuclear power is a technology that is being promoted and constructed in defiance of public safety (to the point of building reactors near
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fault lines) in the interests of modern, non-stop growth Capitalism. In order to survive, companies and corporations today need Nuclear energy to constantly produce more and more consumer goods and services for people to buy and use. Those companies which don’t will quickly be taken over by more ruthless competitors. This demand for non-stop growth has already led to a world economic crisis - today it endangers the very environment human beings live in. There are alternative sources to both Nuclear and Fossil fuel – renewable energy, like tidal, wind, and solar. The reason these are not encouraged on the same level as Nuclear power is simple, they do not have the same advantages for capitalism as fossil/nuclear fuel. You cannot decide when, where, and to what extent the wind blows, waves move or the sun shines in the same way you can decide what level of fossil/nuclear fuel to use. This kind of renewable energy is not compatible with a society and economic system that is dependent on constant, never ending economic growth. That’s why as well as changing our energy systems away from those that damage the environment we have to change our society to one that isn’t dependent on constant growth, and the never-ending production of consumer goods which results not only in the economic crisis, but now new environmental catastrophes. The disaster at Fukushima is connected to the economic crisis throughout the world – the constant non-stop growth demands of Capitalism, in defiance of the needs and safety of the majority of the world’s population.
A RIGHT ROYAL WASTE OF MONEY by Bill Bonnar HOW should socialists mark the royal wedding? The temptation, on the day, will be to stay in bed, pull the duvet over your head and wake up when the nightmare is over. Or perhaps try to get out of the country on holiday; preferably to a republic somewhere. As attractive as both options are what we should do is use the opportunity to protest against this obscenity and campaign for our vision of a republic. For the establishment, the royal wedding represents a number of things. It is a celebration of their system of hierarchy and inherited privilege and the god given right to flaunt their wealth and status. It is showing that the concerns of ordinary people about growing poverty, cuts to vital social services and unemployment are not their concerns. For the government and media it is a welcome diversion from depressing headlines; an upmarket soap opera played out on the pages of Hello and OK Magazine along with the latest news on Madonna or Jennifer Anniston. Sadly millions of ordinary working people will be taken in by it all. The good news is that millions wonâ€™t including the majority of people in Scotland whose reaction to the wedding ranges from anger to irritation to just plain indifference. For the Left, those not staying under the duvet or jetting off to Republican France, it represents a great opportunity to argue the case for Republicanism and in
WILLS AND KATE: the Royal Wedding hype is enough to make you boak! particular, for a Scottish Socialist Republic. At its heart, Republicanism represents both a set of political ideals and a model for government. First and foremost it is about democracy; that government represents the people, reflect the interests and concerns of the people and is directly accountable to the people. Second, the idea of citizenship; that we are all citizens rather than subjects with rights and responsibilities as part of a collective society. Republicanism is also about modernity; a political system for the modern world and not a throwback to medievalism. In Britain, the abolition of the monarchy and House of Lords and its replacement with republican institutions is a reform already overdue more than a century ago. That they both still survive is testimony to the key role they play in propping up the current social and economic system. Some may argue that the demand for a republic, while welcome in its itself, is not a
priority for the Left and point to the many examples like the United States; one of the oldest republics in the world. What the experience of the United States actually demonstrates is that the ideals of republicanism are incompatible with capitalism and that the latter will always corrupt the former. The American Constitution is one of the most revolutionary documents ever written yet the political system remains the preserve of a rich elite. In Scotland the SSP argues for the creation of a Scottish Socialist Republic. In this context what do we mean by republic? Do we simply mean the absence of monarchy? Our vision would involve a political system based on the maximum democracy at all levels of society from local communities to national government. Democracy would extend into the workplace and to all areas of decision making. We would re-establish in practice the true meaning of democracy as power to the people by giving people the
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means to control the things which have hitherto controlled their lives. We would create a society based on active citizenship with the rights and responsibilities this entails and give people a sense of ownership and control of the political system; something completely lacking in the socalled capitalist democracies. Of course one cannot separate a political system from the economic base that it sits on. An economic system based on social ownership and collective provision and a political system based on republican democracy are at the centre of our vision for a Scottish Socialist Republic. The SSP will be marking the royal wedding with activities around in and around the day itself. We will also be involved in further actions to mark another royal wedding in Edinburgh in July. In October it will play host to the Republican Socialist Convention as a follow up to a successful similar event held two years ago. Viva la Republic!
WHAT’S WRONG WITH PORN? by Carol Hainey HORSE racing is big money. But everyone enjoys the spectacle, it’s largely harmless and the horses love to perform. It’s in their nature. You see them doing their stuff at the jumps even when they are not mounted. And they get well looked after, regular health checks even. Some of them are celebrities in their own right and travel the world. The best of them are bred for perfection and kept in stables run by top breeders. These rich white men love horses and races like the Grand National celebrate the animals, who love to be admired. So a couple of them died at the Grand National, but they still have better lives than say the dowdy, plodding existence of a trekking pony. You can’t imagine such a thing as a wild horse, truly free to live just for its’ own sake. This article is about porn, and horses are a terrible analogy for women. But I wanted to make my point in the extreme and couldn’t bring myself to use disabled people, black people or Jews as the comparison. It would be hate speech you see and that’s completely unacceptable. Of course horses can’t ‘choose’ to race the Grand National in the same way a woman may ‘choose’ to star in a porn movie. A woman who was once a seven year old girl, her eyes level with the ‘lads’ mags on display at WH Smith. A girl who has grown up seeing porn become increasingly mainstream; A girl who has therefore grown up as one of the 63 per cent of young
women who reportedly aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers. But this article is not about ‘indecency’. Nor is it anti sex. It’s about why pornography is a form of hate speech that dehumanises women. Pornography is NOT sex. It’s a sexist depiction of sex. The American Feminist human rights lawyer, Catharine Mackinnon said: “Man fucks woman. Subject, verb, object”. How can an image of a woman sucking a man’s penis after he has inserted it in her anus not be sexist? This “ass to mouth” shot, so popular in porn today, does not increase the man’s sexual satisfaction. It is popular because of the degradation of the woman. Porn reduces women to three holes and two hands. Another popular depiction is ‘airtight’ – all the holes plugged. Or double penetration, two penises in the vagina or anus. The orifices are displayed afterwards for signs of damage. The language used is disrespectful, for example,
when portraying women gagging during oral sex, a pornographic website asks: “Can these fuck toys be any dumber?” Images of women having their hair pulled or their faces slapped during sex are common. These are mainstream pornographic images of hurting and humiliation. There is much, much worse available, including bestiality or even death. Pornography influences young men’s expectations of sex, leading to pressure on young women to comply with acts normalised in pornography. Sexual bullying
and harassment is an increasing problem in UK schools. There is a significant body of research that links exposure to pornography to an increased risk of sexual violence against women. In his book Getting Off. Pornography and the End of Masculinity, Robert Jensen argues that pornography is a mirror of the type of society we live in. The mirror reveals that our culture easily accepts cruelty, inequality and degradation. Porn produces huge profits for already wealthy, mainly white men like Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint. The value of the porn industry globally is now estimated at $60billion. Who enjoys the spectacle? Is it in women’s nature to perform in this way? Is a stay in the luxurious Playboy Mansion really a suitable compensation to womankind for all of the hate speech we have had to endure? Can you imagine such a thing as a woman who is truly free to live just for her own sake? A woman who has never seen her kind portrayed as just stupid sex toys? A girl who has never browsed amongst the Playboy” merchandise whilst choosing a pencil case for school?
The Wee Red Bookshop Books, t-shirts, ideas to change the world! All at very reasonable prices! 137 London Road, Glasgow Phone 0141 221 7470 for opening info, or if you can donate books, we can arrange for them to be picked up.
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WHAT’S LEFT IN NICARAGUA? by Joyce McCracken THE 1980’s were dismal times. We had Ronald Reagan in the White House followed by George Bush the elder. Britain had Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There was much talk of the New World Order and today’s neo liberal model became the right way of government. So the neo-libs told us. In the shadow of such a dismal cloud many on the Left despaired. Oh for a silver lining. The defiance shown by the people of Nicaragua was the silver lining many looked for. Washington was arming and financing a war against its people, who overthrew the US backed dictatorship of the Somoza family in 1979. Around the world church people stood in solidarity with Nicaraguans as education and health care became accessible to even the poorest. Trade unions, community groups, and some national governments identified with the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN). The Left claimed the Sandinistas as its own and President Daniel Ortega as one of theirs. And many of the less politically committed, finding common ground with the FSLN, found common ground with the committed Left. So, more than 30 years after the Sandinista Popular Revolution, in this election year, what of the Left in Nicaragua?
Left Credentials – Left Labels The FSLN is part of the Socialist International. That puts it in the company of the
British Labour Party, South Africa’s ANC and the French Socialist Party, and a good many other parties from around the world. At best that makes for rather questionable Left credentials. The FSLN government has taken the country into ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. Greater social, political, and economic integration among the countries of Latin America are the stated aims of ALBA. Eight countries make up the alliance and so far Nicaragua is the only Central American country to join. Most notably among the others are Venezuela in South America and Cuba in the Caribbean. That makes the Left label a bit more credible. For some time the Sandinista government has been using the by-line Christian, Socialist, Solidarity. Back in the 1980s, the US campaigned hard along the lines that Nicaragua was a client state of “Communist Cuba” and
the “Soviet Russia.” But it was not until Hugo Chavez of Venezuela put “socialism for the 21st century” on the Latin American political agenda that the word socialism was so publicly taken up by the leadership of the FSLN. Although, even before the Sandinista Revolution there had been a Socialist Party of Nicaragua.
Reality – What reality? In Nicaragua the journalist William Grigsby is seen as the leading voice of the Left within the FSN. In an article of the journal Envio in April 2000, referring to the years after its 1990 election defeat, he is quoted saying, ”Instead of working in opposition, the FSLN’s political leadership [presumably Daniel Ortega] has formed a co-government with the Somocistas. Instead of defending the people’s interests, they’ve made a pact to defend their own interests.” By 2009 he seemed to
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have moderated his view. In a Swedish radio interview, quoted in the website Tortilla Con Sal, Grigsby acknowledges that the FSLN leadership has made mistakes while out of government. He goes on to elaborate what he calls the “reality” of the Nicaraguan situation. Part of this reality is that the FSLN is in power and its leader Daniel Ortega “has demonstrated consistency with the essence of the Nicaraguan people’s struggle.” Few would dispute that today’s FSLN government acts as a brake on neo liberal’s self appointed right to rob the people. Programs are in place that benefit the poorest. No Liberal government will take such radical action. It’s true Ortega’s public utterances consistently favours the poorest in his country. But a good many Nicaraguans have a view of reality that takes in some other considerations. Some of these are more in keeping with Grigbsy’s earlier observations. For example, many of the FSLN’s leadership, have become very rich indeed through pacts and cogovernment with Somocistas. A computer systems graduate I met in the street last week was not one of those. He’d like a job with a salary, so he could stop selling bread rolls. During the dull, cloudy days of the 1980’s the FSLN provided the Left with a silver lining. At the same time that seems to have blinded the Left to some important considerations of reality.
ScottishSocialisttVoice SOCIALISM, INDEPENDENCE AND INTERNATIONALISM
ISSUE 372 15TH - 28TH APRIL 2011
NO CUTS IN SCOTLAND FOR
Vote for a fightback - Vote SSP!
SAVAGE cuts. Soaring unemployment. Growing poverty. Riots in the streets. And a Westminster Cabinet which contains 23 millionaires out of 29 ministers. The SSP says their must be no return to the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher laid waste to Scottish jobs and communities while Labour councils ran up the white flag.
Today, four of five Scots oppose the Tories and the LibDems. This Westminster Government has no mandate to rule and ruin Scotland. SSP MSPs in Holyrood will fight for: JA no-cuts, defiance budget along the lines proposed by SSP councillor Jim Bollan in West Dunbartonshire.
J Total support for direct action, such as the magnificent occupation of the Hetherington Building by Glasgow University students. JA new Scottish Service Tax to replace the Council Tax, which would raise an extra ÂŁ1.5billion a year for Scottish public services.
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Socialist Voice that covers the first part of the Scottish Parliament election campaign 2011