Donny Gluckstein

Their democracy or ours?

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Donny Gluckstein looks at what democracy means under capitalism - and our alternative

Democracy is today's all-popular buzzword, beloved alike of mainstream politicians, the Arab revolutionaires, and young people protesting in Spain. For people like David Cameron democracy means a parliament which gives rein to the tyranny of market forces, and the grotesque inequalities that brings. Those facing poverty and unemployment expect the opposite of this democracy - freedom from want, and a just society.

R is for Revolution

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"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!" English poet William Wordsworth's reaction to the fall of the Bastille in 1789 conveys the exhilaration of those precious moments when the masses overthrow an old society and build a fresh one.

Such events must be distinguished from superficial change. Under capitalism there is a constant turnover of rulers, technology, family structures and ideas. The microchip has superceded the spinning jenny; Barack Obama follows George Bush; even the banks are nationalised - but capitalism continues. Revolution means change at the most fundamental level. States are transformed, ruling classes are replaced by new ones, production and distribution are radically altered. Nothing stays the same.

Crime: Capital's Punishment

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Politicians and the media have whipped themselves up into a frenzy over the question of crime, and the solutions they put forward involve ever more draconian measures. Donny Gluckstein discusses why inequality, desperation and alienation are key to understanding why capitalism is the primary cause of criminal behaviour.

Britain is now one of the most unequal countries in the world. A recent report on boardroom pay reveals that the average salary of a top executive is 115 times greater than the average wage and a staggering 249 times the national minimum wage. There is now a mass of statistical data that shows that the bigger the gap between the richest and the poorest in a country, the higher the levels of crime, ill health and societal breakdown.

Mental State

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Review of 'Occupied Minds', Arthur Neslen, Pluto Press £16.99

This is an extraordinary but terrifying book. It consists of interviews with some 50 Israelis from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds - secret servicemen and those who risked their lives supporting Palestinians, rabbis and secularists, racists and those who have married Arabs, and many more. Topics discussed range from the status of Yiddish to the treatment of gays, Kabbalistic theology to the rock scene, the Holocaust to football.

Speech, Applause, Speech

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Review of 'Old Labour to New', Greg Rosen, Politico's £30

This book claims to be a history of Labour but is more like TV shows called 'The Hundred Greatest Films, Love Songs', etc. It is a compendium of the 'Hundred Greatest Labour Party Speeches'. As a reference work for the rhetorical prowess of prominent Labour figures from Keir Hardie onwards it is unsurpassed. All the classics are there - Nye Bevan in full flow, Wilson calling up the 'white heat of the technological revolution,' Kinnock at his most verbose - and not just as soundbites but full renditions, sometimes occupying three or four closely typed pages.


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