Yesterday, I went to an Anti Racism conference in central London. On my way home, I popped into a bookshop (Housman’s) , found your magazine and bought a copy.
Let me start by saying that I don’t neatly fit anywhere politically but it’s important to me that everyone has access to the wealth created by this country and contributes to wealth creation in a way that is aligned with their skills, passions and experience. I think that socialist values play a part in that.
I’m writing to you because I was really disturbed by the article on the October magazine on ‘Taboo and Criminality’. You mentioned an acquaintance with someone who was found guilty of sexual crime with an under age female who, after serving a prison sentence and was hounded out of his job by an internet campaign.
The article suggests that serving the prison sentence somehow draws a line for the perpetrator of the crime.
I too know someone found guilty of sexual crime and many, many victims. The man got away with it for decades and it involved children as young as five.
What I would say is that, some victims never, ever recover from sexual abuse. Their whole lives they suffer. It can stand in the way of their ability to really let go in loving relationship, love themselves, their bodies, be happy, whole, functioning people. Recognition of the decades long impact of sexual crime has may be one reasons that your friend was hounded out of his job. I don’t know your friend of the circumstances.
This whole world, irrespective of political leaning, has hypocrisy embedded into it.
I can’t see how a living in a socialist society will remove the activity of sexual exploitation and abuse. Your article didn’t work for me. Hope you can see why.
It is in the nature of social taboos that they arouse intense emotions. The abuse of the weak by the strong is repugnant to most of us but it can only be understood if we put aside our outrage in an attempt to comprehend it rationally. Your contention that ‘this whole world, irrespective of political learning, has hypocrisy embedded into it’ implies some type of irreversible evil in human nature, which we don’t accept as being based on the scientific evidence. But if we accept instead that child abuse, like many other destructive behaviours, constitutes an abuse of power then it becomes necessarily a question of politics, i.e. the origin and nature of that power. We contend that authoritarian social structures and hierarchies both motivate abusers and then facilitate their activities. The sexualisation of power is at the root of such behaviour and exists in nuclear family units, religious organisations, public schools, prisons, the military and so on. All of these institutions are part of and reflect the capitalist hierarchical social structure.
Prisons primarily exist to punish rather than to rehabilitate (which, of course, is infinitely more expensive) so we would consider that they typically make matters worse rather than ‘draw a line for the perpetrator’. If in spite of all of this the offender truly regrets their behaviour and tries sincerely to rehabilitate themselves then does he or she not deserve a ‘second chance’? We know, however, that many abusers were themselves abused and so we acknowledge the difficulties involved for both the community (including the victims) and the offender. These are tricky issues and it is possible that some individuals (hopefully small in number) are so scarred by capitalist society and with such fundamentally anti-social behaviour patterns, that they have to be kept away from others if rehabilitation doesn’t work.
But because socialism addresses unequal power relationships at their source, we believe that it can certainly help to ‘remove the activity of sexual exploitation and abuse’, along with all the other examples of this type of social relationship within capitalism, and it is one of the reasons some of us are socialists. – Editors.
Many times on hearing news like the bombing of a bus in Yemen carrying children, and of other atrocities, frustration and anger has made me feel like throwing a few petrol bombs about too, or somehow getting hold of an AK47 and attempting to assassinate the chairmen/shareholders of the arms companies profiting from it.
But I don’t think it’d help. Do we really want to become another RAF/Baader Meinhof terrorist organisation? Bombing the (somehow depopulated) arms factories would perhaps stop it in the short-term, but new ones would be quickly built, and we’d likely as not end up rotting in prison cells.
Same goes for the assassination game. New parasitical fascist scum would soon replace the old. Plus killing isn’t my idea of fun, and I don’t see how brutalising and dehumanising ourselves, by turning ourselves into murdering dogmatic fanatics would help anyone.
We could, I suppose, divert our energies into making working for these people socially unacceptable (I for one wouldn’t work for them, even if it meant starving on the street) but then we’d become nothing more than a mere anti-war party/protest group. And despite years of futile campaigns CND still haven’t managed to ‘ban the bomb.’
We have never been, and I sincerely hope we never become a party pursuing ‘single issues’.
Another consideration is that the people who are born into the ruling class didn’t choose to be any more than we chose to be born into the working class. From birth they are as subjected to their own idiotic ideology as we are.
So who is culpable? Who is to blame? It could be argued we all are: the workers for swallowing the bullshit and not getting up off their lazy arses to end this tragic farce, and the owners, for being both subjected to, and perpetuating a brutal inhuman ideology.
So what is to be done? (As a vile mass murdering dictator once asked)
I am still haunted by the memory of a starving child in Africa (the Ethiopian famine of 1973, I think) who wanted nothing more than to taste a piece of bread for the first time. As a 9-year old child I remember crying to my parents ‘please let me send him my bread’ before the TV reporter announced that even though he was in hospital being treated, he still couldn’t have his dearest wish fulfilled, as eating bread would have overwhelmed his severely malnourished system. Having never tasted bread, that child later died. While the EEC was paying farmers to leave fields uncultivated/fallow, and storing wine lakes and butter mountains.
Eleven years later, in 1984, another tragedy began to haunt my dreams. The image of a dead child’s face, lying staring open eyed through the rubble of the Bhopal disaster. Another easily preventable disaster – if only the safety of people, and the planet we call home, could have been put before profit and the bottom line.
I have been cursed with the burden of a socialist worldview/conscience for 37 years now, and have yet to find a better way forward than ‘Agitation, Education, Organisation’ until we meet a critical mass and undertake the revolutionary change required, whether that be by the ballot box, or some other (peaceful) means. If any one can think of some other strategy/quicker way forward, without compromising our core principles, I for one, would be more than willing to consider it.
Malcolm Ian McKay,