Sabby Sagall

Democracy: Their System, Our Fight

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The democracy of our rulers is a pale reflection of the real thing, writes Sabby Sagall.

Bush and Blair constantly proclaim their abhorrence of dictatorship, their insistence that the war on Iraq was motivated by their love of democracy, a system they will generously endow on the Iraqi people once the 'terrorists' are crushed. We can be forgiven some head-scratching. Didn't the US, with British support or connivance, help to install the most brutal dictatorships in Iran (1953), Indonesia (1965), Congo (1965), Chile (1973), Colombia (1990s till now)?

Sex Transcends the Barriers

Issue section: 
Author: 

Review of 'Don Giovanni' by Wolfgang Mozart, English National Opera

Don Giovanni deals with the story of Don Juan, the irresistibly attractive man to whose charms women succumb even though they know he is a philanderer. In a superb early aria, Don Giovanni's servant Leporello (Iain Paterson) tries to convince the abandoned Donna Elvira to forget about him by reading out a list of his master's 'conquests', but to no avail.

Don Giovanni deals with the theme (or fantasy) of unbridled sexual indulgence, a challenge to Freud for whom sexual restraint was a precondition of civilisation. In this sense, it applies to women as much as to men.

Subject to Script Approval

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Embedded' by Tim Robbins, Riverside Studios and 'Stuff Happens' by David Hare, National Theatre

As part of an encouraging renaissance of radical theatre, Embedded and Stuff Happens have attested to the continuing centrality of the war on Iraq in political debate. Though different in style and content, both are written from a clear anti-war perspective.

Palestine: Beyond a Boundary

Issue section: 
Author: 

Up to 7,600 Palestinian political prisoners in four different prisons have begun an open-ended hunger strike in protest against the appalling conditions of their detention.

Among their demands are: an end to collective punishments such as indiscriminate beatings; improved visiting rights and the easing of restrictions on communication with lawyers; and the improvement of health facilities. The Israeli authorities have begun lighting barbecues outside the prison walls to torment the prisoners. 'The prisoners can... starve to death...' said Hanegbi, Israeli public security minister, rejecting their demands.

Privatisation: More Loot for the Fat Controllers

Issue section: 
Author: 

New Labour's policy of Public-Private Partnership or Private Finance Initiative (PPP/PFI) is second only to the war on Iraq as a source of anger and disillusion among its traditional supporters.

It means part-privatisation of key areas of the welfare state, falling just short of the outright privatisation epitomised by the railways. A central plank in the neoliberal agenda, PPP/PFI was launched by John Major in 1992 as an alternative to the state-based method of replacing or improving schools, hospitals and rail tracks, and of running services in health, education and transport, through taxation or government borrowing. Now Tony Blair and Michael Howard are haggling over the detail, but not the principle, of PPP/PFI.

Obscure Ringtones

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'The Valkyrie' by Richard Wagner, English National Opera at the Coliseum

The Valkyrie is the second in Wagner's cycle of four independent operas known as The Ring of the Niebelung, a complex story derived from German medieval mythology with a motley cast of characters - gods, humans, giants, dwarfs and Rhinemaidens.

Love Can't Buy You Money

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Review of 'Rhinegold' by Richard Wagner, English National Opera at the Coliseum

Wagner's music represents the high point of German Romanticism and gives powerful expression to German nationalism. In his early life, he was involved with a liberal nationalist organisation called Young Germany, and in 1848 he welcomed the outbreak of revolution throughout Europe with a poem celebrating the uprising in Vienna. When the revolutionary wave reached Dresden in May 1849 he became editor of a republican weekly and narrowly escaped arrest.

Palestine: A Return to Mass Struggle?

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

The assassination of Sheikh Yassin highlights once again the ruthlessness of the Israeli state.

The official reason for the murder was retaliation for the suicide bombs that killed ten Israelis in Ashdod. But how to explain the timing? Media pundits have suggested it was a sop to appease the right wing in Sharon's cabinet following his proposed withdrawal from parts of the Gaza Strip, or else a means of denying Hamas any sense of victory from a unilateral Israeli pullout. But it is incongruous to argue there are elements more right wing than Sharon.

Customer-Oriented Express

Issue section: 
Author: 

Review of 'The Permanent Way' by David Hare, National Theatre, London, then touring

David Hare's latest work is not a play in any conventional sense, rather a dramatised documentary that subjects privatisation of the railways to a rigorous and devastating critique. We are presented with a mosaic of individual testimonies from 25 characters - both those responsible for running the privatised network and those at the sharp end of its failures.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Sabby Sagall