Yuri Prasad

Hungry Bengal

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No socialist interested in South Asia and the British Empire should be without this myth-busting book.

Meticulously researched and argued, Mukherjee focuses upon the Bengal famines of the 1940s and puts the blame for the millions of deaths upon three interrelated factors — British rule and the way India was dragged unwillingly into the Second World War; insistence upon free market economics, even in a crisis; and, crucially, the local elite who put their own interests far ahead of the starving.

All white on the night

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The arts establishment struggled to explain the lack of black and Asian actors shortlisted for the British film industry’s Bafta awards last month.

Benedict Cumberbatch managed to stuff a foot in his mouth, saying, “As far as ‘coloured’ actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities [in the US] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.” Of course, Hollywood’s Oscars didn’t show any sign of recognising the array of non-white talent either, with an equally unrepresentative crop.

Threads of resistance

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Low-paid workers in the Global South are often dismissed as powerless. But Bangladeshi garment workers are leading a fightback.

Smoke is rising from the highways that run to and from the export-processing zones that surround the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Thousands of the most downtrodden workers in the world are involved in a pitched battle with sweatshop owners and the government that stands behind them.

Protocols of the Elders of Sodom

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Tariq Ali, Verso; £12.99

Tariq Ali is known to readers of this magazine as one of the most trenchant and articulate critics of imperialism. This collection of his articles, diary entries, reviews and interviews, published over many years, takes us in a different direction and reveals Ali's passion for literature.

When his writing is at its strongest it can make you want to read books that you long ago decided were not for you - in my case, Don Quixote, passages of which are revealed as a fascinating commentary on both the Cold War and today's so-called clash of civilisations.

A People's History of Poverty in America

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Stephen Pimpare, The New Press, £17.99

More than 2.5 million Americans lost their jobs last year, spreading fear of a return to the "hungry thirties" across the working class. In an attempt to deflect attention from their own failures, our rulers have urgently attempted to recreate a distinction between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor.

SR: A Change is Gonna Come

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SR is changing. After a year of being a supplement to Socialist Worker, it is to return to being a separate publication, with its own editorial and distribution team.

The move follows a decision of the annual conference of the Socialist Workers Party, held in January this year.

It is hoped that in its new format, the magazine will be better able to reach the growing audience for socialist ideas.

The new magazine is set to launch at the beginning of May 2007 and this issue of SR is the last one in the supplement format.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped produce SR over the last year - our writers, photographers, illustrators and columnists.

SR Award Nomination

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Readers of this magazine will be pleased to know that SR has been nominated for the 2006 Utne Independent Press Award in the category of International Coverage.

The nomination states that: "Given that our library is home to 1,200 periodical subscriptions, that your work has consistently appeared on our radar throughout the year deserves a hearty congratulations.

"Now more than ever, discerning readers crave courageous, independent voices, and we're excited to point them in your direction."

Yuri Prasad
Editor

These Songs of Freedom

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In the 1960s, blues and folk singer Julius Lester put his voice at the disposal of the US civil rights movement. He talked to Yuri Prasad about how music and politics mixed.

The year 1965 was a tumultuous one for the civil rights movement. In Selma, Alabama, marchers were brutally attacked by police with clubs, whips and tear gas on a day that was dubbed "Bloody Sunday". In Watts - the overwhelmingly black suburb of Los Angeles - anger at racism, poverty and police harassment exploded into one of the biggest riots the US had ever seen. The movement also lost one of its most radical leaders when Malcolm X was assassinated as he addressed a public meeting.

India: Voters Versus Investors

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Just how democratic is 'the world's biggest democracy'? It's a question millions of Indians must be asking in the wake of their election.

The far right BJP government campaigned on its record of privatisation, economic 'liberalisation' and Hindu chauvinism. It was soundly beaten by the Indian National Congress - which claimed to champion the poor who had been left out of the 'economic miracle'.

Selective Memories

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Review of 'The Majestic', director Frank Darabont

In the US in the 1950s thousands of actors, film-makers, writers and technicians had their lives and livelihoods destroyed by an anti-Communist witchhunt. In an atmosphere of mutual suspicion, many of those accused of Communist sympathies named their friends in order to avoid being blacklisted themselves. The studios willingly joined the frenzy, passing on the names of longstanding staff who then had to face the inquisition. Hollywood's cooperation with the show trials has been a shame from which it has tried to make amends on many occasions. 'The Majestic' is its latest attempt.

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