Camilla Royle

Searching for Socialism: the Project of the Labour New Left from Benn to Corbyn, Colin Leys and Leo Panitch, Verso £8.99

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Searching for Socialism is a history of the Labour Party from the 1970s until 2019. Its authors, the Canadian academic Leo Panitch and British author Colin Leys, have condensed their 2000 book, The End of Parliamentary Socialism, to form the first five chapters. The rest of the book consists of new material on Labour under Blair, Brown, Miliband and Corbyn.

The ‘Test and trace’ app is another Tory fiasco

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Boris Johnson’s government has taken weeks to launch a procedure that has been used to contain a host of epidemics in the past. Camilla Royle investigates the reasons behind the latest disaster.

it seems there is a fresh example of the Tory government’s failures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic on an almost daily basis. One of the most significant is its failure to put in place an effective and appropriate system of contact tracing early on in the pandemic.

Contact tracing has been used for a range of diseases, including pandemic flu, tuberculosis, measles and sexually transmitted diseases. It has been successfully deployed against Ebola in west Africa.

What kind of climate movement do we need?

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Camilla Royle looks at the new climate activism

Last month cyclone Idai struck land near the coastal city of Beira in Mozambique. One of the worst cyclones ever to hit the southern hemisphere, the storm has been devasting. At the time of writing the death toll stands at around 700 across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, but the full extent of the killing will only be known when the flood waters recede. Survivors were still waiting to be rescued from trees and rooftops a week later and many were left without enough food and drinking water.

America City

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America City, set in the early 22nd century, is an example of the growing genre of climate fiction or cli-fi. It opens with a description of a devastating superstorm that hits Delaware, crushing even steel-reinforced homes. As climate change bites, Americans are fleeing the stormy east coast and going west. Others are escaping the parched south of the country, leaving their homes to the dust as it becomes too expensive to irrigate the farmland.

Welcome to the world of the plastic beach

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Modern capitalism’s throwaway society has created a crisis in the oceans. We must put blame where it’s due.

The BBC’s recent documentary series Blue Planet II, presented by David Attenborough, has kept viewers transfixed with its portrayal of the stunning diversity of wildlife in the oceans. It has also highlighted one of the world’s biggest environmental threats — plastic pollution.

Honourable Friends?

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Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’s short book gives an outsider’s perspective on what it is like going into the House of Commons as a new MP. Some of the conventions such as the practice of referring to members of one’s own party as “honourable friend” or having a place where MPs can hang their sword are archaic but basically harmless.

Barbican controversy

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I agree with Hassan Mahamdallie’s article on the Exhibit B controversy (November SR). When protesters organised a petition and picketed an artwork they felt was racist and won their demands they shouldn’t have been dismissed as a “mob” and it is not the same as censorship. What’s the point of protesting if you don’t hope to win?

I also don’t believe that the artist is a racist or that the artwork was produced with racist intent. The black artists who chose to take part in the piece didn’t think so either.

Marx and Nature

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Can Marxism help us understand our relationship with the environment? Did Marx himself ignore the role of nature? And do his theories need to be updated to incorporate ideas from the green movement?

Paul Burkett’s Marx and Nature, along with Marx’s Ecology by John Bellamy Foster, was a major contribution to these debates.

Marx and Nature was originally published in 1999, a time when it was common sense, even among some on the left, to argue that Marx neglected the role of the
natural world.

Mr Burns

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Mr Burns

Almeida Theatre, London, until 26 July

If you were given the task of preserving culture for future generations what would you save? Gilbert and Sullivan or Eminem? Shakespeare or the Simpsons? How much would you remember? And would you remember it right?

Mr Burns is described as a post-electric play. It opens with the audience plunged into darkness and a small group of people on stage around a camp fire. We know something has happened but are never really clear what. Few people are left alive. Nuclear power stations have gone up in flames and there is no power.

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