Camilla Royle

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.

The drugs don't work

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The World Health Organisation (who) warned in April of the “devastating” potential impacts of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria. Before they were used widely in the 1950s, minor infections could become serious or even fatal.

They are also vital for surgery and for preventing people from getting ill when their ability to fight infection is weakened during cancer treatment.

But the more they are used, the more opportunity there is for bacteria to evolve into resistant “superbugs” like MRSA.

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.

Land and Labour by Martin Empson

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Published by Bookmarks, 13.99

Humans are part of the natural world yet we also shape that world. The type of society we live in, and crucially the way human labour power is organised, are central to how we relate to nature. But as Martin Empson argues, the changes we make to nature also affect the ways that societies are run. Crucially the shift from fairly egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies towards societies based on agriculture - known as the Neolithic agricultural revolution - enabled the evolution of class society.

The World Until Yesterday

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Jared Diamond

"Parents should carry babies upright" - this is the parenting advice of Jared Diamond in the Telegraph last month. Diamond is perhaps more familiar to readers of Socialist Review as the author of Collapse and the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel. In his latest book he points out that there are societies in the world today with widely varying approaches to raising children. Some keep them close all the time; others let children play on their own near sharp knives and fire. They learn about the world by making their own mistakes.

Why read State and Revolution

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Lenin finished writing State and Revolution in September 1917. At the time the fate of the Russian Revolution hung in the balance. After the February Revolution overthrew the Tsar, the country was run by a provisional government involving socialists in coalition with bourgeois forces.

Workers across Europe continued to be sent to the trenches in their millions in a seemingly endless imperialist war.

Lenin was aware of the desperate need for workers to take power in Russia, but also for revolution to spread beyond Russia. He aimed his arguments at Karl Kautsky, who had been the leading theoretician of the influential pre-war German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The key question was whether the existing state under capitalism could be taken over and used to advance the interests of workers.

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