Revolution by stealth
I’m surprised that Katy Dollar’s report on the 14 December Labour Transformed conference (Solidarity 529) does not mention the repeated, unpleasant attempts of the organisers to prevent Workers’ Liberty members selling our materials and running a small stall in a corridor.
I’m surprised, also, that the report does not mention the organisers’ comments to our members that AWL supporters would not be welcome in the organisation they were setting up, or their silly attempts to demagogically label us as the people who are members of the “democratic centralist organisation in the room.”
It is also true, is it not, that the little clique which was running the event was actually trying to set up a “democratic centralist” organisation themselves by manoeuvring the audience into it without telling them what they were doing. Now, that’s a very weird business.
They offered no programme (a few little planks like “abolish the anti union laws” is not a programme of a socialist group), and held no serious programmatic discussion, while actively avoiding the key dividing issues of Brexit and antisemitism.
No doubt plenty of the people at the event were perfectly reasonable, and were there to discuss a left-wing, Labour response to the election defeat. We’re not going to help those people by not being straightforward and clear about the strange little group manipulating the event.
A follow-up email from this group states, “As this is an attempt to build a new organisation, (our) next meeting will not be open to members of pre-existing democratic-centralist revolutionary organisations.”
I.e. they have confirmed that AWL will not be allowed in. Therefore reducing the chance of any difficult discussions taking place or awkward questions being asked.
In a coy sort of way it is also an admission that they intend to declare a “revolutionary democratic centralist organisation.” As if such an organisation can simply be wished into existence without a solid political basis.
Mark Osborn, Lewisham
Military aid to Israel
Eric Lee is right in his article “Sanders, Corbyn and anti-Semitism” (Solidarity 529) that Bernie Sanders compares well to Jeremy Corbyn on being clear on his personal support for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
However, Sanders is wrong to support continued military aid to Israel and it is a positive if he is changing his mind. It is not a concession to BDS to be opposed to such an embargo, for example, very minimally until Israel makes moves to end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza.
Stephen Wood, Haringey
Mainstream science not always right
Angela Driver (The Placebo Effect, Solidarity 529 p16) correctly endorses the healing potential of some complementary and alternative medical therapies and even placebo.
However, several clinical trials (and systematic reviews) — on human and other animals (veterinary science) — have shown that homoeopathy is more effective than placebo. There is also some basic scientific understanding of the biochemical mechanisms of micro-diluted remedies (although research funding has been hard to sustain in the recent hostile climate).
Most importantly, practical experience with homoeopathy shows us that well-trained and regulated homeopaths, practising appropriately, produce impressively favourable results, often in combination with “conventional” medical interventions.
I think life-long socialists should be able to discuss the promotion of human welfare, including the development and provision of medical technology, with mutual compassion and comradely respect. Let us recall that mainstream science has not always been, and will not always be, right. Let us also be careful to protect non-oppressive minority views.
I would urge the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and Martin Goodman (‘Scientific Testing Should Decide’, Solidarity 529 p16) to recognise that scientific learning and democratic working-class flourishing and emancipation are turbulent dialectical processes, which demand and deserve impartial, sensitive and careful scrutiny.
A senior orthodox medical scientist wrote, in 2002, that “human beings are unbelievably complex organisms about which we understand very little. I suspect that the fruits of the genome project will take years to unravel and it will be even longer before we understand how the human brain works and how it can influence organic disease elsewhere in the body.
“Though I do believe passionately in scientific medicine, I have not got to the stage of being so blinkered that I cannot believe that at least some aspects of the more complementary approach to medicine may have a lot to offer” (Sir David Weatherall FRS, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, and author of a major World Health Organisation report on genomics for global health).
Richard Shield, Wallasey