John Newsinger

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!

Navigating the Zeitgeist

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One important point to make about Helena Sheehan’s political odyssey — from a conservative Catholic upbringing through the radicalism of the US left in the 1960s and early 70s, on to Official Sinn Fein and the Communist Party of Ireland, and then into the Irish Labour Party — is that it demonstrates with crystal clarity the importance of the theory of state capitalism for revolutionary politics.

On Labour and Zionism

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The Labour Party has a long history of support for the state of Israel. It’s the shifting of opinion towards Palestinian rights that has prompted the current antisemitism claims, writes John Newsinger.

Far from being “institutionally antisemitic”, a much better case can be made that the Labour Party has throughout most of its history been “institutionally Zionist”.

The Labour Party embraced the notion of creating a Jewish state in the Middle East even before the Balfour Declaration, and thereafter regularly reaffirmed this commitment. This was a commitment shared by both the left and the right in the Party, although for different reasons.

Fascism and the Daily Mail

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The Daily Mail has a long history of siding with the far right. John Newsinger reveals the key period of the 1920s and 1930s, when the paper’s proprietor Lord Rothermere actively backed fascist movements.

The Daily Mail has always been a viciously reactionary newspaper, prepared to slander and malign anyone perceived to be a threat to the interests of its proprietor Viscount Rothermere and his class.

It most famously published the forged Zinoviev Letter in order to damage the Labour Party in 1924, but also went after Stanley Baldwin, the Tory leader, for being a crypto-socialist in 1931.

The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know

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The alt-right has attracted a lot of attention over the last couple of years, propelled into prominence by the Trump phenomenon in the US. It is best seen as part of the general resurgence of the far right in the US, across Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, but whereas much that has crawled out into the light of day is familiar, the alt-right is apparently something new.

Still sticking with Trump

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John Newsinger brings his analysis of the Christian right in the US up to the present day, with a look at why they have backed Donald Trump’s administration to the hilt and will likely continue to do so.

In August 2017 white supremacists and neo-Nazis paraded in Charlottesville, killing one protester, Heather Heyer, and seriously injuring a number of others in the process. When Trump refused to condemn them, his various business advisory boards collapsed as the CEOs of leading companies resigned in protest.

There were no resignations from his spiritual advisory board. The leaders of the Christian right, Trump’s evangelical courtiers, stuck by the man they played such an important part in installing in the White House.


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