Sue Sparks

Crisis at the BBC - should we care?

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After the appalling revelations about child abuse by Jimmy Savile and others the BBC has been plunged into crisis. Yet some of those attacking the BBC are media magnates and newspapers who would profit from its demise. Sue Sparks asks, should socialists defend the BBC as a public service broadcaster?

The BBC is facing one of the most serious crises in its history. This article is not about the facts or causes of this particular crisis; rather I want to look at the response of socialists to the attack on the BBC.

Bad News

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John Lang and Graham Dodkins

This is a timely book, not merely because it appears on the 25th anniversary of the Wapping dispute, but also because we find ourselves again with a Tory government bent on cutting living standards and privatising public services, and threatening to restrict even further the rights of members of trade unions to take action to defend their jobs and incomes.

Tokyo Sonata

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Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa; Release date: out now

This is a film for our times, telling the story of a salaryman - the administration director of a healthcare equipment company - in his forties (Ryuhei Sasaki, played by Teruyuki Kagawa), who loses his job when the administrative functions of the company are outsourced to China.

Rivals

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Bill Emmott, Allen Lane, £20

Bill Emmott was editor of the Economist for many years. He made his name with a prescient book about Japan, The Sun Also Sets, which appeared at a time when many people - especially in the US - were afraid that Japan was going to take over the world. He realised that Japanese capitalism had some serious weaknesses, and when its asset bubble burst, followed by years of stagnation, he was proven correct (though his analysis was in many ways quite superficial).

Markets' Republic of China

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Once it was seen as 'actually existing socialism'. Today China is capitalism's shining star. Sue Sparks surveys four recent books on its economy and those who make the profits.

Just as the Japanese economic "miracle" of the 1960s and 1970s spawned an explosion of books - many of them ill-informed punditry - so the "rise of China" is doing likewise. The books reviewed here seek, in their different ways, to chronicle and illuminate aspects of China's recent history. Three are by journalists, of which one is a translation of a work banned in China. Only one is by authors (two US economists) who would situate themselves in a Marxist tradition.

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