John Newsinger

Hiding in Plain Sight: the Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America, Sarah Kendzior, Flatiron £22

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If you only read one journalistic account of Donald Trump’s America make sure it is Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight. It is certainly one of the most devastating indictments not only of the Crooked President himself but of the corrupt system that put him in power. Kendzior first came to notice with the publication of a collection of her journalism, The View from Flyover Country, which provides a powerful account of post-2008 America from the point of view of the blue and white collar working class.

The uprisings that ended slavery

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anti-racism

The uprisings that ended slavery
We are told William Wilberforce brought about the abolition of slavery. As John Newsinger explains, it was the slaves themselves that fought bloody rebellions in order to win their freedom
‘I Would Rather Die On Yonder Gallows Than Live In Slavery”. These were the words of Sam Sharpe, the leader of the great Jamaican slave revolt of 1831, shortly before he was hanged on 23 May 1832. This was the spirit that abolished slavery in Britain’s Caribbean colonies.

Track and Trace: In safe hands?

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Even in the middle of the Dominic Cummings scandal, it still comes as a surprise that the person put in charge of Track and Trace by Matt Hancock is Baroness Dido Harding. Among other things she is also on the board of the Cheltenham Festival. As the Daily Mail pointed out, the board decided that the event should go ahead this year despite the pandemic, and experts believe it “caused a spike in Covid-19 deaths”. Now even taking into account the fact that Johnson and Cummings and the rest of the Cabinet are without shame, perhaps she was still the best person for the job.

Afghanistan the hidden defeat

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US imperialism has suffered a massive historic defeat with the planned withdrawal of troops. This is being presented as some sort of success. The hard truth is very different.

The most powerful country in the world has failed to defeat the Taliban after years of bloody warfare. Not only is this America’s longest war, but taking into account inflation, it is the third most expensive war in US history.

A conservative estimate is that the war has cost well over $900 billion and other estimates double that figure. And there is the toll of 2,300 US dead and over 20,000 wounded.

The Romance of American Communism

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One of the great enigmas of working class history is how it was that so many fine working class militants, men and women, embraced Stalinism and either refused to believe in or actually helped cover up its crimes.

They happily followed political strategies dictated by Moscow and aimed to further Soviet foreign policy rather than the class struggle.

Rishi Rich takes top job as chancellor

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Boris Johnson has just installed the richest man in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak, as Chancellor of the Exchequer in his “people’s government”. The fact that Sunak is a disgusting sycophant, only appointed because he was prepared to demonstrate absolute commitment to the realisation of Johnson’s greatness, and who would do what he was told, should not disguise this fact. Indeed, a willingness to publicly humiliate and demean oneself before Johnson is now an essential requirement of being a Tory minister.

Nineteen Eighty-Four and all that

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Seventy years after his death, George Orwell has been canonised by the literary establishment as a liberal critic of totalitarianism. John Newsinger argues that his life and his work show him to be a harsh a critic of capitalism, and a staunch supporter of the struggles of the “common people”.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published in 1949 when its author was already seriously ill. He was to die, aged only 46, in January 1950. One consequence of his early death was that his book was successfully hijacked by the right, both in Britain and the United States. It was turned into an ideological weapon in the Cold War, used to defend the interests of British and American imperialism and to undermine the left throughout the world. It is today once again a bestseller, speaking to a new audience in a very different world.

Billionaire super-yacht owner dies

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, according to the British establishment one of the finest, wisest, kindest men in the world, has died. Flags were flown at half-mast on public buildings and the prime minister, Prince Charles and the Chief of the Defence Staff flew out to offer their heartfelt condolences.

According to Boris Johnson’s official statement, Qaboos was “exceptionally wise…the father of the nation who sought to improve the lives of the Omani people”.

Hostile Environment

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This is an important book, remorselessly chronicling how “the UK’s immigration politics” have “devastated” the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over the years. Maya Goodfellow starts off with the then home secretary Theresa May’s proudly proclaimed “hostile environment” policy, which ministers boasted was intended to be “cruel”. And, for once, they were true to their word. The “Windrush scandal” was “an almost inevitable consequence of the impossible system” that May put in place.

Johnson's useful idiot

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Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, regularly makes reference to his father having been a bus driver, and inevitably this has figured in half-hearted attempts to proclaim the Tories as the new champions of the British working class.

Of course, his father was only briefly a bus driver before opening a shop, but regardless of that Javid can much more accurately be described as an ultra-Thatcherite multi-millionaire international banker. He is reportedly worth £8 million — hardly a man of the people!

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