Judith Orr

The Labour debate

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Working class people are angry at Labour, but at the same time they are fearful of the prospect of a Tory government. Judith Orr responds to the arguments about Labour and the election

The debate we are having on the pages of Socialist Review about whether socialists should call for a vote for Labour where there isn't a left alternative reflects a very real debate happening across the wider working class movement. After 13 years of Labour in government the bitterness against it among workers is intense.

The corporate seduction of feminism

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Socialist feminist and US academic Hester Eisenstein spoke to Sally Campbell and Judith Orr about her book, Feminism Seduced, and the challenges facing the women's movement in the US and worldwide.


What do you think about the first year of Barack Obama's presidency?

I didn't share the excitement and the enthusiasm that a lot of my colleagues on the left had about Obama. I distinguish his actions from the symbolism of his being elected.

US: Healthcare

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"All our services are free and are provided by volunteers. The doctor is free; the dentist is free; the eye doctor is free."

The website for Remote Area Medical (RAM) has to spell it out for a sceptical public used to being charged for even the most basic elements of healthcare.

RAM was set up by British-born Stan Brock in 1985 after he had lived for some time in the upper Amazon basin. He wanted to help make healthcare available to the most remote and impoverished people of the region.

US: Poverty

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7.7 percent of households have no bank account.

Of those households with no bank account, 21.7 percent are black, 19.3 percent Hispanic, 15.6 percent Native American and 3.3 percent white. A further 17.9 percent of households are "underbanked', that is, they have limited access to banking facilities. That's almost 54 percent of black households, 44.5 percent of Native American households and 43.3 percent of Hispanic households.

The fog of class war

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Gordon Brown's government is waging class war against the rich, so claim the Tories - and the rich.

They cite Alistair Darling's one-off 50 percent windfall tax on bankers' bonuses over £25,000 (not in fact paid by the rich but by the companies they work for) and Brown's jibe in the House of Commons last month that Tory policies were dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton. One front page article in the Financial Times, headlined "Who Wants To Be In The UK?", declared that "bankers were fuming" about the tax rise.

Fort Hood: Iraq and Afghanistan - the resurgence of anti-war cafes

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In Killeen, Texas, the Under the Hood Cafe is getting military families and soldiers organised. Its founder, Cynthia Thomas, talks to Judith Orr


Why did you set up the Under the Hood Outreach Center and Cafe?

The concept of the coffee houses has been around since the 1960s during the Vietnam War. There was actually one here in Killeen during that time called the Oleo Strut. When the wars started with Afghanistan and Iraq, people were talking about setting up a coffee house again.

The Will to Resist

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Dahr Jamail, Haymarket; £14.99

Dahr Jamail reveals a side of the US military rarely explored in the mainstream media - the soldiers refusing to go and fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a world where soldiers come back from war physically and psychologically broken and get no support; where women soldiers suffer rape and assault at the hand of fellow soldiers and get no justice; and where traumatised vets commit suicide or violent assault on others because they can't cope with their experience of war.

Dissent in the ranks

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The war in Iraq left the country in ruins and the occupation in Afghanistan is being questioned on a scale not seen since the 2001 invasion.

The "good" war has gone bad. General McChrystal, the new US general appointed by Barack Obama to turn the war around, has said that without more troops the West will lose. Nato troops have been occupying Afghanistan for eight years and have largely avoided the scrutiny and opposition that the occupation of Iraq received. The warmongers have managed to hide behind the myth that Afghanistan was a just war against the Taliban, who oppressed women and provided shelter for Al Qaida. But no longer.

Z is for Zhenotdel

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When thousands of women workers went on strike on International Women's Day in Petrograd, Russia, in 1917 they had ignored advice from Bolshevik party leaders to "keep cool".

Once they were on the streets the Bolsheviks went all out to build their struggle. Leon Trotsky would later write, "Women's Day passed successfully, with enthusiasm and without victims. But what it concealed in itself no one had guessed even by nightfall." For that day's action was the trigger for the Russian revolution that was to transform the lives of millions.

Interview with Tariq Ali: Occupational hazards

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Rising military casualties have stimulated public debate about the war in Afghanistan. Judith Orr asks writer, broadcaster and activist Tariq Ali about the war and the prospects for the US imperialist project.

At Marxism 2009 you spoke about how "things are not going well" for the US and British governments in Afghanistan. It seems since then things have got a good deal worse. Military leaders talk of being in Afghanistan for many years, if not decades, and some are openly admitting the war is unwinnable. Is this a situation where, even if the US know they can't succeed, to withdraw is unthinkable? As the war aims constantly shift, are they now only concerned with not being seen to be beaten?

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