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Letters to the editor

October 10, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Romney's death penalty push
Dean is no friend of workers
There's always a "lesser evil"
Socialists shouldn't support Camejo

Dockers taking a stand

Dear Socialist Worker,
Ports were shut down September 29 in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus. European dockworkers are protesting the possibility of massive jobs cuts due to a plan by the European Commission that would allow shipping companies to arrange to unload their cargo using seaman and non-union, low-paid casual labor.

According to Niek Stam, a strike leader in the Netherlands, "Working on the docks is dangerous. Safety is at stake if shipping companies can hire unqualified workers to load and unload ships." In the Netherlands port of Rotterdam, in the presence of a police mobilization of 2,000, the workers held a large rally of 9,000. Most dressed in orange work clothes and carried signs that read "Proud to be a docker."

The Dutch workers were joined by dockworkers from other countries, including representatives from the U.S. West Coast International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The protesting workers defended themselves against mounted police attacks with fireworks, sticks and beer cans. A Rotterdam police spokesperson remarked, "The atmosphere has become grim."

In Antwerp, more than 60 ships were ignored by Belgian dockworkers, with another 20 ships due to arrive later in the day. In Barcelona, Spain, 5,000 workers marched from the city center to the docks. "It has been a success...all Spain is stopped," according to Julian Garcia, secretary general of the Spanish dockworkers' union.

This latest attack on European dockworkers follows similar attacks on dockworkers in Mexico, Brazil, Australia and, most recently, in the United States. These attacks must be opposed by all workers in all countries.

Ken Morgan, ILWU Local 6, San Francisco

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Romney's death penalty push

Dear Socialist Worker,
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is trying to put the death penalty back on the plate of lawmakers in Massachusetts. He is facing the state's highest unemployment rate in nine years and underfunded, packed schools this fall.

Romney is seeking the death penalty as his political "ace in the hole." He claims that new science can provide a fail-safe death penalty. Ironically, this same science, DNA testing, has been used recently to exonerate many who were wrongly sent to rot on death row.

New science has illustrated that institutional racism and class inequalities play a huge role in capital punishment cases. Moreover, the Boston Globe recently reported that most capital cases don't involve DNA evidence--and since funding for public defenders has been cut in this year's budget, costly capital punishment cases would be horrifically underfunded.

The death penalty has been rejected three times in the last six years in Massachusetts by an increasing majority. Public support for the death penalty nationwide has plummeted. Far from providing a fresh approach toward a "just" death penalty, DNA evidence has proved, in many cases, that the justice system is not fair and that to put a human life in its balance is unjust.

The death penalty cannot be administered fairly and justly in our society. Any attempt by politicians to use "new science" as means of pushing for a "new death penalty" flies in face of the facts that have been revealed by DNA testing.

James York, From the Internet

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Dean is no friend of workers

Dear Socialist Worker,
At the recent Vermont AFL-CIO convention, I and other assembled delegates were told by a slew of politicians and labor officials that we just have to "hold our noses" or "wear a clothespin" and vote for Howard Dean, or whichever Democrat wins the nomination. Anybody, to get rid of George W. Bush.

After an hour and a half of such speeches, I stood and asked if I could respond from the floor. I quickly reviewed the Dean record with which Vermonters are all too familiar: he's a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, was a strong supporter of NAFTA, is in favor of sending 40,000 more troops to continue the deadly and costly occupation in Iraq, and has now flip-flopped to support the death penalty. Dean also supports raising the retirement age.

This is no friend to workers. Instead of organizing for his--or another Democrat's--election, we should be organizing to win union drives, contracts and strikes. Afterwards, a couple of people came up and urged me to find a "big enough clothespin" to allow me to vote for Dean.

But others also approached me to start a conversation about the problems of "lesser evilism" and how to build a real alternative to the bosses' parties. These are the conversations we need to have within our unions, regional labor councils and at state conventions. And we need more rank-and-filers to stand up and speak up--never mind that we're not given a place on the official agenda--to make such conversations happen.

Nancy Welch, AFT Local 3203, Burlington, Vt.

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There's always a "lesser evil"

Dear Socialist Worker,
The question "Who should we support in 2004?" (SW, September 19) depends on what we believe is possible and how it can be achieved. Most on the left who support a Democratic "lesser evil" do so because they neither believe that socialism is possible nor that the working class can achieve it. Their advocacy of a Democratic "lesser evil" is a counsel of despair.

That they honestly believe this--and perhaps would wish to believe otherwise, is beside the point. Such people--however otherwise devoted they are to the cause of the working class and other oppressed peoples--have simply abandoned the socialist project. Those of us, on the other hand, who oppose working within the Democratic Party or voting for its candidates do so because we believe that to postpone building a party independent of the capitalist two-party system--because this election is a "special case", is to postpone building it forever.

There will always be another "special case"--like Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Jr., etc. To postpone building a party of the working class is not to choose another road to socialism, but to abandon the socialist project.

Of course, to believe in the capacity of the working class to achieve socialism is a gamble. There is no guarantee of success. It is this that the advocates of the Democratic "lesser evil" mean when they caution us to be "realistic." But such "realism", in effect, means writing off socialism altogether. It means the endless prospect, the two-jawed trap, of Democrat followed by Republican followed by Democrat.

Mark Dickman, Chicago

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Socialists shouldn't support Camejo

Dear Socialist Worker,
Regarding your endorsement of Peter Camejo for governor in the California recall election: How can a "revolutionary organization" hope to remain credible if it endorses a candidate that does not call for an overthrow of capitalism?

There is no question that Camejo is the best choice if you compare him to the other frontrunners, but his calling for a "fair tax" is not socialist. Rather, it accepts the huge gaps between rich and poor, and attempts to "make the best of it."

I find the International Socialist Organization's position on the recall overcomplicated--or, more frankly, wimpy. Socialists should say "yes" to recall, whether the governor is a Democrat or Republican.

As far as endorsing a candidate, socialists should support other socialists, not former socialists or Greens. As a former Green, this is a big change for me, but I now believe that a mass revolutionary movement will be slowed and distracted by supporting any candidates that aren't advocating an end to the capitalist system.

Michael McGroarty, From the Internet

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