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Letter: National voices stifled by march of the market

Neal Ascherson calls for writers and thinkers "to answer the question: Who are we, and what are we like?" (2 November). While the question of our identity and the problem of finding a way forward are linked, they are not the same question. While England needs a platform from which people "with passionate imaginations can survey their nation and report what they see", it also needs a forum in which "the way forward" can be sensibly discussed.

Mr Ascherson sees that "everything is going global"; thissurely, is the root of the problem. It is not only the English who are overwhelmed by the pressures of global economics; all national and sub-national groups are being suborned into compliance. Governments are either helpless in the face of the onward march of "the market", or positively welcoming to it.

This pressure for economic growth will lead to a catastrophic breakdown. Whether it's our ecological support systems, social fabric, or the financial system which collapsesremains to be seen; but many scientists believe we cannot go on as we are, and they are being joined by "intellectuals". Can the English - usually so resistant to new ideas - possibly lead the world out of the industrial era?

Tony Beamish

Littlehampton, West Sussex