Columnists

A Different US and Them

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It's working class Americans we side with, not their government.

One of the most common accusations against those of us who are against this 'war on terrorism' is that we are anti-American--that we have a knee-jerk opposition to all that the US says and does because we hate the place the people and all things American.

This I find very strange, as in the various anti-war rallies and meetings I have attended, plus the wide variety of anti-war articles I have read, I have seen very little evidence of this anti-Americanism. Hostility to the Bush regime? Yes. Hostility to US foreign policy? Yes. Hostility to the large US corporations? Yes.

It's Not a Dream--It's Possible

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The work of Studs Terkel lets ordinary Americans speak for themselves.

The working class has its historians too. Sometimes in the great debates about historical changes you miss the voices of people describing ordinary lives. After all, the sweep of history is as much about experience, about living through things, as it is about forces and events that shape us. In his great study 'The Making of the English Working Class', EP Thompson's preface was far reaching in its modest comment that 'I do not see class as a "structure", not even as a "category", but as something which in fact happens in human relationships...

Hegemony and Harmony?

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Despite its military dominance the US still has reason to fear its rivals.

Is there only one imperialism left? That is the question many people are asking as the US prepares to launch another war against Iraq.

It's fashionable to speak of a 'unipolar' world, in which the US is the 'great hegemon', its 'empire' unchallenged like that of Rome 2,000 years ago. In reality things are not that simple. The multiple war criminal Henry Kissinger certainly has his doubts. He wrote after the Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR:

Move Over, Darling

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Is your pension at risk? Yes, minister.

You would either need to have a very short memory or a tremendously blinkered New Labour kind of mindset to regard the latest crisis in the pensions industry as not worth getting all that worked up about. When a whole series of the biggest firms in the country suddenly announce that they are pulling out of 'final salary' pension schemes--because they claim they can no longer afford the payouts--and the top man at the National Association of Pension Funds starts talking about people having to work on to the age of 72, some of us might start to get a bit nervous.

Speaking Ill of the Dead

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The general public was seriously underwhelmed by the death of Princess Margaret.

It was a striking symbol of the decline in popularity of the royal family. The crash barriers had been erected to hold back the crowds who would turn up to sign a condolence book for Princess Margaret, yet there were no crowds. The crash barriers were as surplus to requirements as Jo Moore at the Ministry of Transport. If you add to this indifference the apparent panic about the lack of interest in the queen's Golden Jubilee, you can see how far things have travelled in the last 25 years.

Into the Heart of Darkness

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The global 'civilisers' have left a bloody legacy in Africa.

It seems appropriate that Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' should be reissued. Its central figure, Kurtz, the crazed officer who reverts to a state of barbarism deep in the rainforest, might be taken to symbolise the same 'evil forces' that Blair and Bush denounce in their daily meetings with the press. Kurtz first appeared in Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness', but his role was complex.

No Time for Misplaced Optimism

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Is the recession coming to an end? Chris Harman is sceptical.

Soon after Greg Dyke took over as head of the BBC he decreed that its coverage had to be much more friendly towards big business. One consequence of this is a second god slot in the 'Today' programme--only the god this time is not called Jehovah or Allah but money. The slot, for those of you who don't get up so early, runs from 6.15am to 6.25am, when it gives way to the lesser god of sport. One message comes blaring through, day after day. There is no need to worry about the economic crisis. It never hit Britain, and if it did it's already over, not just here but in the US as well.

Torture US Style

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The treatment of Afghan prisoners shows the brutal face of US imperialism.

So there we have it! A 'war against terrorism' turns out not to be a war at all. A 'war of precision' turns out to be a war of totally indiscriminate killing, and a 'war for civilised values' ends up with the most brutal and uncivilised treatment of the enemy.

Somehow it is meant to be the opponents of the war who got it all wrong. All those who thought it a civilising mission are apparently in the clear, despite the evidence in front of their very own eyes.

A Land Fit for Heroes

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Why the British ruling class like nothing better than a complete failure.

Across a vast white expanse a single figure appears as a dot on the horizon. As the man comes closer, you notice he is puffing at a pipe, while the other hand is buried deep in the pocket of his coat. Hours later he stands in front of you. Removing the pipe from his white-flecked mouth, he speaks: 'Hello, old chap; don't happen to know the latest Test score at the Oval do you?'

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