Feature

Hong Kong’s protests in perspective

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John Smith puts the Hong Kong protests of recent weeks into the broader contexts of Hong Kong’s development over the past few decades, its growing connections with the hugely important Pearl River Delta area and the growth of an increasingly aware, organised and militant Chinese working class.

The 2 million-strong demonstration in Hong Kong on 17 June and the proliferation of smaller demonstrations led by students and student-worker alliances, have been truly exciting.

‘Every single Viceroy of India, whether they liked it or not, had to deal with Gandhi’

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Harjeevan Gill speaks to author and historian Talat Ahmed about her new biography of Mohandas Gandhi, the battle over his legacy in India today and what Extinction Rebellion can learn from him.

There’s been so much written about Gandhi. What was the motivation behind writing your book?

Yes there are lots of books about Gandhi — you could fill an entire library with the number of biographies and political theses. Some of the literature is very good indeed and there are lots of historical works dating back 30 or 40 years where historians have mined all kinds of archival material in order to try and make sense of Gandhi. Much of that work has been very useful and it certainly influenced me in my own thinking.

Are there too many people on the planet?

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Martin Empson unpicks the arguments of those who claim that population growth is to blame for the climate crisis.

At some point between October 2011 and March 2012 the world’s population surpassed 7 billion people. Whenever such a milestone is passed there is a rash of alarmist articles in the media warning of the dangers of uncontrolled population growth. In the years since 2012 the total has increased by a further 700,000 people, which for some activists, politicians, demographers and media commentators only fuels the panic. As a result, you don’t have to campaign around environmental issues for long before someone will tell you that the problem is “too many people”.

Why are homophobic attacks on the rise?

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Bethan Turner examines the toxic mix of mainstream politics, the alt-right and religious pronouncements that normalises bigotry.

"They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions… The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them.” So wrote Melanie, one of the women assaulted in a homophobic attack on a London bus in May. The incident sparked widespread condemnation, including from Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, arguably surprising, given her record, but more on that later.

Gender, sport and capitalism

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The shocking treatment of runner Caster Semenya raises questions about what is “fair” in top level sport, but it should also make us re-examine how girls and women are taught to feel about their bodies, writes Sue Caldwell.

In May the Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) ruled that the South African Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya has an “unfair advantage” when running the 800 metres because of the high level of her naturally occurring testosterone. By their own account the CAS admitted that the ruling is “discriminatory”, but “necessary”. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) welcomed the ruling as a “reasonable and proportionate means of preserving the integrity of female athletes”.

Outrageous imposition

Pick of the summer

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Our writers recommend books, art, music and events for the holidays.

Tim O’Dell

In her novel, An American Marriage, Tayari Jones introduces us to Roy Othaniel Hamilton, a young Southern black man who is doing well. Everything takes a terrifying turn when he is convicted of a rape he didn’t commit. Jones knows that we judge people on how we imagine we’d react, but real life is a bit more complicated. This novel is an exploration of the fragility of black lives in the US. Deserving of its Women’s Prize for Fiction win, it is a great read that will touch you deeply.

The logic of capital online

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Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, explores the world of the giant tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. We all know they collect our data for profitable uses; how deeply does this affect capitalist relations, asks Joseph Choonara.

I was part of the last generation in Britain to experience childhood before the Internet. It still seemed miraculous when, in the mid-1990s, it became possible to browse the Web, using search engines such as Altavista and Lycos — Google being as yet neither a search engine nor a verb.

The Internet had none of the pervasiveness it has today. Mobile phones, for those who had them, were mostly used for phone calls. Beyond my university computer room, going online meant using a dial-up modem with speeds one thousandth of my current connection.

Race, class and identity

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Racial prejudice forces us to define ourselves with categories that it has created writes Yuri Prasad.

Identity is intrinsic to our very being and poses vital questions: who we think we are; what defines us; who we believe we are connected to — and perhaps as importantly, who we are not, and who we do not feel connected to. It’s not hard to see how such notions become intertwined with those of race, community, ethnicity, and nation.

Debating critical Marxism in Cuba today

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In May over 100 people attended an international conference in Cuba discussing the ideas of Leon Trotsky, with the aim of shaking up state–sanctioned “Marxism”. Héctor Puente Sierra reports.

Resistance to imperialism runs through the history of this small Caribbean island. A Spanish colony for nearly four centuries, Cuba was the last Latin American country to win independence, in 1898 — only to become a United States protectorate immediately after. The US held Cuban development back, channelling away the profits of the economy’s chief export, sugar.

May is going, what next for Corbyn?

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Theresa May has announced she's standing down, yet there is still no end in sight for the Brexit debacle. Sally Campbell analyses the European election results and the pressures coming to bear on Corbyn.

Goodbye Theresa. Socialist Review is happy to file you away in the box marked “Tory detritus”. Private Eye’s new issue following May’s announcement that she would be resigning on 7 June features the headline, “Theresa May Memorial Issue: The Prime Minister’s Legacy in Full”, followed by a blank space. But this is far too kind.

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