Former Communist Party Chair Gus Hall stated in the opening of his book “Imperialism Today”: “The French have a saying: ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’”

This is most interesting because two pages later, he adds: “As a part of the general crisis the economies of most of the major imperialist powers faced a series of crises. Greater use of the government to bail out the monopolies and repress revolutionary movements was required by the ruling classes.”

Seems kind of prophetic with all of the talk of “bailouts” this week.

James M. Bradford
Philadelphia PA

In perspective

Forbes tells us the world now has 358 billionaires. Their combined net worth exceeds the combined net worth of the world’s poorest 2 billion people. The World Bank points out that “the grain required to fill the tank of a sports utility vehicle with ethanol could feed one person for a year.”

As Lily Tomlin once said, “No matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.”

David Kuehn
Atlanta GA

Rosenbergs betrayed

Thanks for a great article by Susan Webb, “The Rosenberg case revisited: heroes and betrayers” (PWW 9/27-10/3). At last the details of the frameup are exposed. We always knew it was a frame, but now the horror of the government’s actual role is plainly shown.

Lew Lubka
Fargo ND

The most disgraceful part of the execution of the Rosenbergs is the haste to execute them on Friday afternoon, as the government fully knew as Jews it was not permitted to carry out such an act on the Sabbath or Shabbat! They would then have to wait till after the weekend! So they rushed to execute them before sundown, before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, on Friday afternoon. I remember because I stood in the crowd in downtown New York and cried as their deaths were announced. I was only a child and barely understood what a terrible event was occurring.

Viviana Weinstein
Colorado Springs CO

Editor’s note: In a previous letter by Viviana Weinstein the information on offshore drilling she gave was provided by Jim Hightower. In editing that credit was cut. We regret the error.

Socialism, capitalism and public takeover

The terms “socialism” and “socialism for the rich” have been bandied about recently in relation to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposed by the Bush administration. But, as the 9/27-10/4 PWW editorial, “Shock and awe revisited,” states, this bailout “has nothing in common with socialism.” I don’t agree, however, with the reason you give for this assessment, namely, that it “leaves the companies controlled by the same greedy capitalists who ran them in the first place.”

In fact, in some versions of the proposal, the government would actually take ownership of the companies and, while this would be a good idea, I think we can be sure that even then we would not have socialism. There have been many government takeovers of failing private companies in our history including, for example, the New York City subway system.

The Wall Street bailout is just the normal functioning of state monopoly capitalism, which always seeks to mobilize public resources to maintain and strengthen private corporate power.

It is a mistake to equate socialism with public ownership. There are examples of countries, including New Zealand, Austria and Sweden, where during prolonged periods virtually all industry was publicly owned. And yet they did not have socialism. Nor did Iraq, with its nationalized oil under the regime of Sadaam Hussein.

Socialism cannot be reduced to a blueprint for economic organization as some 19th century utopians mistakenly thought. In essence, socialism means working class power. It is the outcome of a fierce political struggle between the two contending classes. The intensity of that struggle is certainly growing and will be an important factor in determining the outcome of the November elections. But, while this outcome could greatly affect the balance of power between the two classes, even the most massive landslide for the Democrats would still be some considerable distance from socialism.

Rick Nagin
Cleveland OH

Notes of appreciation

Please pass along our thanks to Marilyn Bechtel for a superb article: “Veterans tell VA, ‘Open front door’ to disability claims” (PWW 9/27-10/3).

Paul Sullivan
Washington DC

Paul Sullivan is executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.

We wish to thank you for “A dose of ‘socialism’ to forestall financial disaster” by John Case on It has been translated and will appear in Not withstanding other considerations your analysis is breaking stereotypes that the U.S. government measures to save Wall Street are simply “a way to privatize profit and socialize loss” without other implications. It is evident that we must understand the fluid and complex period we are currently in.

Giuliano Cappellini
Turin, Italy

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