The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.61/No.28           August 25, 1997 
Why oppose trade blocs?
In the story "SWP holds national convention," which appeared in the July 14 Militant, you mentioned that "revolutionaries must take a clear position rejecting all imperialist trade and economic pacts," citing the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as examples.

I believe workers everywhere should reject the European Union as an attempt to gain a competitive edge over American and Japanese rivals, an excuse for government austerity measures, and a hostile move against the workers' states of Eastern Europe. I also oppose NAFTA because its aims are to assure American hegemony and to deepen the exploitation of workers, especially Mexican workers.

However, some economic pacts reflect the interests of a "liberal" sector of the bourgeoisie, and lead to such progressive measures as the elimination of tariffs and other trade restrictions which usually harm all workers, the relaxation of harsh immigration laws, and even the cancellation of the foreign debts of semicolonial countries.

To me, it makes more sense to maintain a neutral position regarding capitalist economic pacts, and to judge each one by its effects on the working class. If it has the intended effect of strengthening the national bourgeoisie at the expense of workers and/or foreign capitalists, workers should reject it. However, if it was created to help one layer of the national bourgeoisie gain a superior position to another, we should judge it more carefully, and if its effects coincide with the goals and aims of the working class, we should collaborate with the bourgeois layer which supports it, while seeking further concessions in exchange for our support.

I know you have a good reason for rejecting all capitalist economic agreements. Please explain why more carefully in a future issue.

Loren Meyer

Helena, Montana

Trade blocs II
In the editorial in issue no. 24 you [call for] "opposition to entry by any country into the European Union, NATO, or any other imperialist institution."

If I'm not wrong, I've read articles in the Militant which have a neutral or "we don't take a position on this non - working-class question" position. At least in the EU and U.S.-Canada-Mexico questions. Different kinds of nationalist movements often campaign against membership by their own country.

My position has been to oppose any such imperialist block. The anti-EU campaign in Sweden was not against NATO. I never supported them and I didn't vote for their anti-EU bill. I abstained.

Lars Erlandsson

Stockholm, Sweden

From a prisoner
I begin in salutations of respect to you in the strength of comrade spirit. Recently I became aware of your publications and commend the stance you have taken in the good fight. The issues you report on and bring to the rest of the world's awareness is a step all to the good.

In my present misfortune I find myself being held prisoner (against my will) here in Pelican's Bay infamous segregated housing unit.

It is California's most high-tech and state of the art human warehouse. There's no other confinement like it, not in this state anyway. I'm housed on a tier which consists of 4 separate cells, and I'm continuously confined in my cell except for that 90 minutes a day I'm locked in the "yard"- which resembles nothing more than a dog-run made for vicious attack dogs.

This "pod" where I am housed is completely isolated from the rest of the prison population, and so other human contact, beside those here with me, is virtually nonexistent. And there are 2 facilities here of these identical pods. Many individuals have been confined "indefinitely" like this for years for nothing more than having known or associated with a person who was accused by prison officials as being gang affiliated.

The recent victory of "Geronimo" [Pratt] is a victory for all in allowing the American people to see the exposure of the injustices that have taken place, and perhaps allow them to understand that those injustices have never stopped taking place. I wasn't politically aware in the 1960s, but my experience has been first-hand in the 1980s and 1990s. I'm Mexican-Indian who grew up in the streets of Los Angeles, and I've witnessed the brutality and roundup of the financially poor to be sent to prison to feed the demand for labor in the million dollar industries.

Publications such as yours are what's needed to open the people's eyes and add numbers to the team. Perhaps I can only join the fight in spirit, but if you find it possible I'd really like to receive a subscription or some issues at least to spread the awareness. I understand the financial burden of a publication and I completely understand if my request isn't possible, but either way I thank you as a comrade of a most worthy cause. Stay strong and straight forward always.

A prisoner

Crescent City, California

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