The Spectator

Letters: the horror of communism

Letters: the horror of communism
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A kick up the assetocracy

Sir: While it was heartening to see Fraser Nelson take a stand against the ‘assetocracy’ (11 September), it made for a depressing read too. As a millennial, voting Conservative today feels increasingly like an act of social charity. Something done at my own economic expense to shield my fellow citizens from the negative impacts of the alternatives. Should I continue to vote for my values, or should I vote for my own self-interest? For all the hypothetical benefit of a society run by a party that believes in the virtues of liberty, free enterprise and our national institutions, for young people the value proposition of a Conservative government is woeful. Ever higher property prices. Tax rises: not on the vast wealth that the young are unable to build themselves, but on earnings that have barely risen in a decade. And does any millennial believe the triple lock will still exist by the time they reach retirement?

The young have selflessly upheld their end of the social contract during the pandemic, curtailing their freedoms despite the marginal risk to their health to save the elderly. Endless subsidy to the assetocracy is a poor way to repay the favour.

James Sean Dickson

London E20

Totalitarian horror

Sir: As a long-ago graduate in Russian, and having immersed myself in Soviet literature ever since, I applaud James Bartholomew’s mission to educate our younger generation in the realities of communism (‘Tales from the Gulag’, 11 September). I was alarmed when so many young people declared their intention of voting for the far left at the last election. Read about the Mandelstams and Anna Akhmatova; look up Irina Ratushinskaya, Zhores Medvedev: the list is endless. (Mr Bartholomew might like to read Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov.) Youthful idealism is one thing, but supporting the idea of a political system that murdered, tortured, exiled or terrified tens of millions of people simply for having different opinions or believing in God — that’s entirely another. All totalitarian societies, whether fascist or communist, breed corruption, greed and cruelty.

I look forward to visiting James Bartholomew’s museum.

Deborah Clarke

Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

I met Roy Chubby Brown

Sir: Reading Rod Liddle’s defence of Roy Chubby Brown (11 September), I was reminded of a time when I worked in an all-night snooker hall in Swansea. Roy Chubby Brown had just done a show: I doubt if he’d be allowed to today. His manager came to the door of my club and asked if he and Roy could have a few frames of snooker to wind down. They came in and were both charming men. A couple of the regulars recognised them and started using the sort of language Rod Liddle described in his article. Roy Chubby Brown was appalled and explained that there were a couple of ladies in the club and that foul language was for his stage show and was inappropriate in public circumstances. They played their frames and, making sure they thanked me, left the club.

The way Chubby Brown is stigmatised is at odds with the type of person he is. Surely the moral is not to judge people unless you truly know them. If you find his humour offensive, then don’t go to his shows.

David Perry

Sketty, Swansea

Marine life

Sir: It is encouraging to read about the revival of marine life in the waters off Malindi (Wild life, 28 August). I started snorkelling as a child in the 1970s along Kenya’s south coast. It was quite usual to come across tiger cowries, octopus, lobsters and anemones, and the occasional seahorse. The beach at Diani was littered with thousands of small shells of many colours.

Although it has been dismaying to witness the general decline of the numbers and varieties of reef fish and shells in East Africa, I have in recent years found pockets of colourful underwater biodiversity in the far south of Kenya and off some of the more remote islands of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. A decade ago, shortly before the closure of the northernmost beach lodge in Kenya at Kiwayu, just a few dozen miles from the border with Somalia, I chanced upon a large, live and very beautiful, orange-lipped bullmouth shell (Cypraecassis rufa), stranded on the outgoing tide. I was very happy to return it to its ocean home.

Philip Birley

Castlemorton, Worcestershire

Military abbreviations

Sir: Melissa Kite ought to be more fair to the youth of today: the proliferation of acronyms and initialisms that she decries is not exclusive to the permanently online iGen (Real life, 11 September). Anyone who has spent time in or around the military will know its notorious enthusiasm for MLAs (Multi-Letter Acronyms). The official list of ‘MOD Acronyms and Abbreviations’ runs to a dizzying 373 pages. From ‘Coin’ to ‘Cobra’, the military obsession with these is truly Fubar.

Robert Frazer

Salford, Lancs

A point of pedantry

Sir: As beer in a jam jar attracts wasps, I suspect that Melissa Kite’s column (Real Life, 11 September) was designed to lure those of a pedantic disposition. In a piece about acronyms, there were unfortunately no acronyms. The essential feature of an acronym is that it can be pronounced as a word. Hence, Nato is an acronym, while USA is not. Melissa’s article, however, is replete with initialisms, where the first letters of a group of words are pronounced separately, for example NHS. Despite this mistake, I must say that I concur with the premise of every Melissa Kite article: other people are indeed very annoying.

J.D. Macarthur

Edinburgh