John Rees

Q is for quantity and quality

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How is it that history makes an unexpected leap forward?

Take the sudden onset of the economic crisis. We were told this could never happen again, but banks are failing, the financial system is in turmoil and a recession is opening up beneath our feet.

The recession is hardly the only example in recent years of a sharp disruption to the flow of events. The 9/11 attacks and their consequences were utterly unforeseen, and marked a turning point after which many important things in the world were never the same again.

Citizen Milton

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Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 26 April

Oxford University owe John Milton. Milton was a revolutionary republican and, after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the University Convocation, with the typical bravery of academic institutions, voted to burn his books. Twice.

Luckily, somewhere in the darkened shelves of the Bodleian, the librarians hid away Milton's works and they survived to be exhibited here. Now the danger is long past, they've done him proud.

How the working class went global

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John Rees talks to author Paul Mason about his book Live Working
or Die Fighting
and the importance of writing about workers' history

Q. You start off each chapter with a contemporary piece of reportage about the international labour movement and move on to historical comparisons. How did you come to that structure?

Politics after Blair

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John Rees examines the strategic choices that those who oppose war and neo-liberalism face in the post-Blair era.

The end of Tony Blair's prime ministership, announced almost exactly five years after the events of 9/11, is a major success for the anti-war movement. For people who became politically active through the struggle against the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, five years can seem like a lifetime. But in terms of British politics it is a blink of an eye.

Uniting for Peace

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In the run-up to the International Peace Conference, Socialist Review spoke to Iraqi and US activists about the occupation, the resistance and the international movement. John Rees introduces the interviews by explaining the importance of December's event.

The largest and most representative Iraqi delegation to visit Britain since the invasion will attend the International Peace Conference organised for 10 December in London. Muqtada al-Sadr's foreign representative will join Sheikh al-Khalassi, the general secretary of the largest umbrella organisation of anti-occupation forces, the Iraqi National Foundation Congress, Hassan Juma, leader of the Southern Oil Workers Union, and a representative from the Women's Will Organisation.

US Imperialism: The Cracks in the US Machine

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Behind the military superiority of the US empire lie major weaknesses. Walden Bello and John Rees discuss the problems facing America's rulers.

Walden Bello: US imperialism today, despite its seeming power, is in crisis. This crisis has several different dimensions. There is a crisis at the economic level (the state of global capitalism), the military-political level and the ideological level. It is the way that the crisis of overproduction at the economic level, the crisis of overextension at the military-political level and the crisis of legitimacy at the ideological level relate to one another that constitutes the uniqueness of this period.

The crisis of global capitalism

Election: The Verdict on the Blair Project

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Respect's national secretary John Rees explains why 5 May is so important to the further revival of the left in Britain.

If Respect is successful in this election it will break the entire policy on which New Labour has been fashioned. It borrowed the idea of 'triangulation' from Bill Clinton. Triangulation means that New Labour doesn't worry about its core support - it takes them for granted on the basis that they've got nowhere else to go. That leaves it free to chase the middle ground. Labour follows the Tory agenda, adopting policies it thinks will be favourable to the right wing press, to the middle class voter, and it ignores the values of the people who built and sustained its organisation.

The Conquest of Iraq

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The Stop the War Coalition is now entering a new phase of its evolution.

From its first meeting in September 2001 it has been clear that the coalition is unique as a single-issue campaigning body. Its precursor was the anti-globalisation movement, whose broad critique of capitalism and methods of organisation entered into its bloodstream at birth even if it never formed part of the coalition's explicit programme.

The Clash of Civilisations

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John Rees remembers Joe Strummer of The Clash.

The Clash arrived on the battlefield of the mid-1970s in the nick of time. Unemployment was climbing, real wages were falling for the first time in postwar British history, Labour was imposing welfare cuts and the Nazis were on the rise.

In rock music, as it was then called, the radical charge of the 1960s had been dissipated. 'Progressive rock' was overblown, made dull by its concept album, rock opera pretensions.

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