Mark Krantz

Hope lies in the proles

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As well as being one of the most significant literary figures on the left in the 20th century George Orwell was also a broadcaster, a columnist, a poet, an essayist, a war correspondent — and a Republican fighter in the Spanish Civil War.

His two most influential books, Homage to Catalonia (based on his experience fighting Franco’s army in Spain) and Nineteen Eighty Four (a nightmare vision of life in a totalitarian society), continue to be relevant today 70 years after they were first published.

On Antisemitism

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“The truth is that everyone who organises for justice in Palestine must wrestle with antisemitism, either because a false accusation is being lobbed at them, or because of a need to be vigilant to ensure that the critique of the Jewish state does not become a blanket criticism of the Jewish people”, explains Rabbi Alissa Wise, one of the contributors in this collection of essays curated by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

Students in San Francisco set up JVP in 1996. It grew rapidly in response to the war on Gaza in 2014. Today JVP has over 10,000 members across the US.

Antisemitism and the left in Britain today (3)

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We have President Trump appointing open antisemites to the White House, the end of the so called “solution” of two separate states for Jews and for Palestinians, the expansion of “illegal” settlement in the occupied West Bank — and John Rose argues for the “the need to campaign for a national dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli Jews”.

Is this really the key task for socialists and students on British campuses today? Few Israeli students study here, and those that do have served three years in the Israeli army where they are taught to hate and kill Palestinians.

The Long Depression

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Why has there has been no real recovery in the world economy since the crash of 2007?

After what is now almost a decade, still there has been no return to pre-crash levels of economic growth and profitability. Unable to explain this grim reality, mainstream economists and many so-called “financial experts” flounder and struggle to explain the economic world we live in today.

Burning Country

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“Revolutionary Syrians often describe their first protest as an ecstatic event, a kind of rebirth,” explain authors Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami in Burning Country. “At first I was scared to join in. But one day there was a very big demonstration, which came from two directions. When I heard the chanting and the singing, I started crying. Suddenly I was filled with courage, and I picked myself up and walked out to join in. My mother tried to stop me but I went anyway. It was a beautiful experience.

Lesser evil

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As traditional electoral support for Labour fragments, the question of who to vote for now was put by Joseph Choonara (February SR). European political parties like Labour once offered reforms, a welfare state, public services, and an economic safety net.

Now it is more privatisation and wars, endless cuts and austerity, bailing out the banks, and the interests of the richest that are the political values at the heart of parties like Labour. No wonder increasingly people are no longer prepared to vote for the “lesser evil”.

Can we beat the bedroom tax?

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In 1990 when Thatcher brought in the "Community Charge" we were told it was only "fair" that the "duke and his gardener pay the same". The Community Charge was a flat rate council tax imposed on every individual in Britain, regardless of income.

We called it the "poll tax". Millions did not pay. Local anti poll tax groups were organised everywhere, forming the national anti Poll Tax Federation, and after two years of struggle, with organised mass non-payment, protests outside the courts, and a demonstration that led to rioting in central London, the poll tax was beaten.

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