BOTH Steve Metcalfe and N Bliss continue to commit the same error, equating capitalism with exploitation.

I have never denied that capitalism has caused suffering to many and continues to cause suffering to some. But capitalism has also brought more prosperity to humanity than any other economic system, not least socialism.

I have never claimed that capitalism means freedom, only that capitalism tends to go hand in hand with freedom, as it is currently doing in China and the former Soviet Union. Let Metcalfe cite a case in which the introduction of socialism has spelled more freedom.

If capitalism is so evil and socialism so good, why do the countries of Eastern Europe remain committed to capitalism even in the face of the conditions that the end of communism has spawned? Maybe they should attend one of Metcalfe's meetings to learn the truth about the lives that they themselves have lived.

The variations within capitalist economies are wide. Some tax a mere 15 per cent of GDP, others 50 per cent. Some nationalise transport, communications, and health. Others don't. Some provide fuller safety nets for their citizens than others. The claim that capitalism, anytime and anywhere, means exploitation of workers is naive.

Finally, the present leaders who are starving their people are Mugabe and Kim Il Sung. Are they capitalists?

Robert Segal, Lancaster.