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Corruption old and new

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Politics in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century was described as the “Old Corruption”. The state was, at every level, in the hands of the great landowners and their allies. It was used to serve their interests, to protect their wealth and privilege, and they ruthlessly pillaged it to further enrich themselves. Place and position were wholly at their disposal. What made all this possible was the enormous scale of social and economic inequality. This Old Corruption came under sustained assault from a number of directions in the course of the nineteenth century.

US elections: The movement is the key

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Amid Donald Trump’s bluster and threats over the forthcoming presidential race, the real power to fundamentally change the sick system is on the American street, says US activist Virginia Rodino

Last month US president Donald Trump was asked what he would do should he lose the election. He replied, “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster… There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” This follows Trump’s repeated blustering claims that the only way his opponent Joe Biden can win is through a rigged election.

Declassified

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On 4 December 1935, England played Germany at White Hart Lane, the Tottenham Hotspur football ground in north London. The game was seen by the Nazis as a great political and propaganda coup, especially coming so soon after Hitler devised the racist Nuremburg Laws that deprived German Jews of their citizenship and civil rights. In England, the decision to go ahead with the game met with considerable opposition, but the Conservative government and its supporters, together with Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, were positively enthusiastic.

Declassified

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In the grounds of Lews castle on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides there is an impressive monument commemorating the achievements of a certain James Matheson. It was erected in 1880, some two years after his death and renovated in 2006. He was the second biggest landowner in Britain, had been a Liberal MP for over twenty years, was a governor of the Bank of England and for many years was chairman of the giant shipping company P&O. He is celebrated on his monument as ‘a child of God…a good and faithful servant’ who had been welcomed into Heaven.

Rebellious Daughters: Elaine Brown & Anne Knight

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Elaine Brown & Anne Knight
Elaine Brown (1943-) grew up in North Philadelphia with her single mother Dorothy Clark. Despite desperate poverty, Dorothy worked hard to provide Elaine with a good education. Elaine moved to California and worked as a cocktail waitress at a strip club. She soon became involved with the Black Liberation Movement and began working for the radical newspaper Harambee.

Sojourner Truth & Elisabeth Dmitrieff - Rebellious Daughters #1

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We begin a monthly celebration of some of the most dynamic, fighting women from history.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was born a slave in New York and named Isabella Baumfree. She was bought and sold four times and subjected to harsh physical labour and violent punishments. In her teens, she was united with another slave with whom she had five children.

Between 1826-27 Truth ran away with her infant Sophia to a nearby abolitionist family. The family bought her freedom for $20 and helped Truth successfully sue for the return of her five-year-old-son Peter, who was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama. She was the first black woman to sue a white man.

What Lies Behind the Health Service 'Reforms'

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There is enormous opposition to New Labour's "reforms" of the health service. But there is not usually the same level of understanding of what lies behind them.

That is why conservative politicians can sometimes take the lead in local campaigns.

Health provision is important for the mass of people as an essential precondition for enjoying life. But capitalism looks at it in a very different way.

Capitalist ruling classes can only prosper by exploiting people's capacity to work - what Marx called "labour power". That capacity is damaged by illness, accidents and malnutrition. So bosses have to worry about keeping a fit and able body of workers - again, in Marx's terms, "reproducing labour power".

A Day to Remember

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The scale and methods of the Nazi genocide of Jewish people make it a politically unique event that deserves a special day of memorial.

My favourite book of the last year was Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky. The two sections in the book were originally planned as the first of six interconnected stories based around the fall of France in 1940 during the Second World War and its consequences.

Nemirovsky never finished them - a French Jew, she was arrested, deported and died in Auschwitz. The books were only recently discovered and published to great and justified critical acclaim.

The Struggle for Intergalactic Socialism

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The desire to meet "higher lifeforms" is just another expression of enthusiasm for socialism from above - way above.

The space race is back, and Britain is ready to take its rightful place among the stars. Half a century after the government cancelled "Blue Streak", its ludicrously named rocket programme, the British National Space Centre - like NASA with more tea and less money - has announced a series of workshops to re-examine the possibility of putting a Briton in Outer Space. Science minister Malcolm Wicks has described space missions as "the great adventure of the millennium".

Torture Couture

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Post-9/11, there's a trend towards combining torture and pornography.



The blurry, pixelated images of a dead Saddam Hussein on the covers of our newspapers were just the latest evidence of the way the "war on terror" has helped produce and normalise a voyeuristic image culture of death and torture. It is an "aesthetics of terrorism" that has drawn on the darker corners of violence and pornography in US culture, and helped, in turn, to bring those formerly fringe values into the mainstream.

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