Joseph Choonara

Defy noxious Tories' divide and rule

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The government is trying to drive a wedge between hard anti-racists and the wider layer who have supported refugees

The tail end of 2015 brought chilling news for Muslims and for anti-racists. In France the far-right Front National took a quarter of the vote in the first round of regional elections. Its campaign was steeped in Islamophobia in the wake of November’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, had been on trial just two months earlier for comparing Muslims praying in the streets with the Nazi occupation of France. In the US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump made the extraordinary demand that all Muslims be barred from entering the country.

Little joy in being your own boss

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A rise in the numbers of self-employed people in Britain raises interesting questions for Marxists about the changing nature of the working class.

Self-employment in Britain is at its highest level in four decades, comprising one in six people in the workforce. About half of the employment expansion since the recession can be explained by its growth.

Has there been an explosion of entrepreneurialism, perhaps made up of the kind of hi-tech start-ups that cluster around “silicon roundabout” in east London? Or are people simply being pushed into more precarious forms of work by employers keen to reduce tax bills, and avoid offering sick pay and other benefits?

More space for a left No

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The debate continues on how best to be an internationalist in the run up to the EU referendum.

Last month’s Socialist Review contained James Anderson’s rather intemperate response to an article I wrote calling for an “internationalist No” in the forthcoming referendum to retain British membership of the European Union.

He writes, “The main argument for voting Yes is that in practice internationalism would be greatly facilitated and given credibility and focus by taking full advantage of the common political framework provided by the EU — by sharing the common membership and institutions and also the common enemies it provides.”

Stock crash shows up sham recovery

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The world’s stock markets were once more in turmoil as Socialist Review went to press.

The immediate trigger appears to have been the sharp downturn in Chinese share prices since July.

This, in and of itself, is a big problem for the Chinese authorities. As well as seeking to contain growing struggles by workers, they have encouraged so-called “middle class” Chinese to invest their savings in the stock market.

EU referendum: Should we stay or should we go?

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As the debate over European Union membership heats up, Joseph Choonara argues that socialists should argue for a left wing No vote, despite the right wing dominating the campaign for a "Brexit".

Referendums are often awkward terrain for socialists, because the terms of the debate are set by establishment politicians. The referendum on British membership of the European Union (EU) is a particularly tricky specimen. The mainstream arguments on both sides will be unpalatable.

The Yes campaign, to retain Britain’s EU membership, will be dominated by the Conservative and Labour leaderships, along with what’s left of the Liberal Democrats.

Summers vs Bernanke: Sick capitalism

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Heavyweight economists can offer only a partial understanding of the weak recovery. Step forward, Karl Marx.

A fascinating debate is taking place between former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers and former US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke. These two big beasts of economics are slugging it out over the reasons for the weakness of the half decade long recovery.

Greece: It didn't have to be this way

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The Troika has succeeded in imposing its will on the Syriza government for now, but other options were. And still are, available.

One of the most scathing responses to the deal struck between Greece’s radical left Syriza government and European finance ministers in February came from 92 year old Manolis Glezos. The former resistance fighter — famous for tearing the Swastika from the Acropolis in 1941 and now a Syriza MEP — compared the agreement to “renaming fish as meat”.

Who do we vote for now?

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We need to build a credible unified left alternative to Labour that is rooted in the struggle of the working class.

Half a century ago the American Marxist Hal Draper wrote a piece entitled “Who’s Going To Be the Lesser Evil in 1968?” His argument was simple. The choice between the two main parties in the US — the Democrats and Republicans — was no real choice at all. That did not mean the parties were identical, merely that “they tend to act in the same way in essential respects, where fundamental needs of the system are concerned”.

Chained to austerity

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Despite slashing public spending, the coalition's economic medicine has failed. Now the economy is taking another turn for the worse.

According to the Greek legend Prometheus, who angered the gods by stealing fire from them, was chained to a rock to have his liver eaten away by an eagle. Each night the liver would grow back so when dawn broke the torture might begin again. So too the budget deficit. No matter the savagery that chancellor George Osborne perpetrates, it is still there the morning after.

The economy's empty smile

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October's market jitters show how confidence in the recovery can flip into panic. But what underlies the turmoil?

Appropriate mood music for London’s stock exchange last month, according to the Financial Times’s James Mackintosh, might have been Anthrax’s “I’m Alive”. For those readers unfamiliar with thrash metal, the relevant lyrics are: “An empty smile / And you’re hypnotised / Selling lies, my enterprise / The sheep just get in line / Capitulate so easily / The power of fear.”


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