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Capitalist education disgusting

As a young queer woman of color in America, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for your article on Helen Keller (FS Bulletin # 31), but also my outrage at the public school education I received, which misrepresented Helen Keller as only “a famous blind woman who overcame adversity.”

Capitalist education is disgusting; it has taken the true militant history of this staunch socialist feminist and downsized her as just another victim who faced obstacles for oppressed youth to idealise. Her story deserves tribute and the FS Bulletin has brought out the truth about her defiant activism. Helen Keller is a part of my radical history. Thank you for your hard work! ¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Norma M. Gallegos
San Francisco, U.S.A.

The way forward for unionists

How much the Howard Government can achieve in terms of weakening unions will depend on the opposition they experience from unions and their members. If the union movement — that is, the leaders and the ACTU — run their normal campaigns, their usual publicity and legal strategies, with no educational focus and no empowerment of the rank and file, then I fear the consequences.

Criminalising of industrial action has been part and parcel of the Australian industrial relations system since the First Fleet. There have been highs and lows in resisting the criminalisation. The Penal Powers were used until finally the jailing of tramways union leader Clarrie O’Shea in 1969 saw those laws defeated. O’Shea was  released from a Melbourne jail in the aftermath of a near-general strike. Then there was a relaxing of the criminalising of industrial action. But there has been a slow increase from the Fraser years, continuing through the Hawke and Keating Governments, and now with Howard. This is brought about by the bosses and government wanting to reduce unions’ and workers’ power. The classic Capital versus Labour.

Howard can be defeated if, however, there is a genuine campaign that is multi-faceted, including education of the rank and file and organisers, empowerment of rank and file members, support for all industrial action, support for wildcat strikes, deliberate breaking of industrial relations rules, legal strategies, media and publicity, mass rallies and pickets. These activities need to continue until Howard is out of office.

The argument about Howard having a mandate is really irrelevant — if something is unjust we fight against it despite a popularly elected government implementing it.

Craig Johnston
Political prisoner, Loddon Prison

Money for Asian tsunami victims, not war!

The initial response by the world’s richest countries to the tidal wave disaster in Southern Asia has been pathetic. Whilst many of these countries have poured billions down the drain in invading and bringing misery to the poor of Iraq, they cannot find enough money to help the mainly poor people who have been made totally destitute by this natural disaster.

At the time of writing, the U.S. has pledged $35 million whilst spending $152 billion in Iraq! Its initial pledge of $10 million was less than it spends in a single hour on occupying Iraq. Britain has pledged only $1.7 million whilst spending many billions in Iraq. In fact the European Union as a whole has only pledged $5 million.

Australia has pledged $35 million despite spending close to one billion in the the war in Iraq so far. In contrast to this, the ordinary people of Victoria pledged almost as much as the British Government in just one day.

The economic rationalists who run most of the world’s governments obviously believe that killing is more rational than saving lives. Australian troops should be recalled from Iraq and resources diverted to help the people of Southern Asian.

Nearly 60% of Australians now believe that the war in Iraq is “not worth it,” according to the latest Newspoll. It’s time to bring the troops home and re-orient our priorities to human need not war and profit.

Judy McVey
Convenor, Socialist Alliance Wills Branch

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