Chris Harman

Unfree and Unfair

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The aims of fair trade face a hostile system.

There are still people who see lack of clarity in the anti-capitalist movement as a positive thing. Even someone who has played such an important role as Vittorio Agnoletto of the Genoa Social Forum praises the lack of 'ideology'. But sometimes lack of clarity leads straight into traps set by the movement's bitterest opponents.

All About Eric: A Cautionary Tale

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Review of 'Interesting Times: A Twentieth Century Life', Eric Hobsbawm, Allen Lane £25

I wrote a letter to the 'Guardian' about six years ago suggesting there might be two Eric Hobsbawms. One ended his book on the 20th century, 'The Age of Extremes', by describing the system as out of control and threatening all of humanity. The other was at that very time praising New Labour's approach to politics.

The Recession Strikes Back

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Chris Harman wonders whatever happened to the US economy's 'new paradigm'.

Some people lose valued possessions. Some people lose their memories. But it is not often that people lose an economic crisis. Yet this is what happened to many mainstream economic commentators a few months ago. Now they have found it again, and some are absolutely terrified.

Venezuela: When is a Coup Not a Coup?

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'There Was No Rebellion' screamed the banner headline of Venezuela's biggest newspaper after the country's supreme court threw out charges against the generals who briefly overthrew president Hugo Chavez on 11 and 12 April.

The verdict was the clearest evidence yet of the hold which those who staged the coup still have on important sections of the state machine. It came alongside relentless hysteria against the government in every one of the country's newspapers and all but one of its TV channels.

Down and Out in Havana

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Is Cuba free from capitalism? Chris Harman looks at the novels of a writer who does not think so.

Sometimes a novel can engross and repel you at the same time. Certainly that's what happened to me with Pedro Juan Gutiérrez's 'Anclado en Tierra de Nada' ('Anchored to the Land of Nothing')--the first part of his 'Dirty Havana' trilogy.

It repelled me because it belongs to the genre of what might be called 'lower depths' fiction. This wallows in the dirt, squalor, drunkenness and mechanical, dehumanised sexuality of those who live on the margins of society, where the artistic petty bourgeois merges with the lumpenproletariat.

To Vote or Not to Vote?

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It was wrong to call for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in the recent French elections.

One of the fascinating things about the present period is how it brings up old issues in a new form. Take the debate which erupted last month among the French revolutionary left about how to react after Le Pen came second in the first round of the presidential election, and knocked out the Socialist Party prime minister Jospin. It was very much a rerun of the arguments over the Popular Front between revolutionaries, Communist Party supporters and social democrats back in the 1930s.

Argentina: Swimming with the Tide of Revolt

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As renewed political crisis sweeps Argentina, Chris Harman following a recent visit to the country argues there is a huge opening for the revolutionary left, provided it breaks from its sectarian past.

'It must have been fantastically exciting,' a lot of people said to me on my return from a visit to Argentina last month.

Hegemony and Harmony?

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Despite its military dominance the US still has reason to fear its rivals.

Is there only one imperialism left? That is the question many people are asking as the US prepares to launch another war against Iraq.

It's fashionable to speak of a 'unipolar' world, in which the US is the 'great hegemon', its 'empire' unchallenged like that of Rome 2,000 years ago. In reality things are not that simple. The multiple war criminal Henry Kissinger certainly has his doubts. He wrote after the Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR:

No Time for Misplaced Optimism

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Is the recession coming to an end? Chris Harman is sceptical.

Soon after Greg Dyke took over as head of the BBC he decreed that its coverage had to be much more friendly towards big business. One consequence of this is a second god slot in the 'Today' programme--only the god this time is not called Jehovah or Allah but money. The slot, for those of you who don't get up so early, runs from 6.15am to 6.25am, when it gives way to the lesser god of sport. One message comes blaring through, day after day. There is no need to worry about the economic crisis. It never hit Britain, and if it did it's already over, not just here but in the US as well.

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