Feature

Why capitalism loves plastic

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There has rightly been public outcry over the state of the oceans, with shocking images of sea creatures trapped in plastic bags. Amy Leather looks at how plastic developed as a by-product of fossil fuel processing, and has been promoted by the petrochemical industry ever since.

Plastic is bad, isn’t it? That is certainly the new consensus. And no wonder there has been a public outcry. Many of us have been shocked by images like those on Blue Planet of a sperm whale with a stomach full of plastic waste, albatrosses feeding their young plastic or turtles trapped in plastic bags.

A report prepared in 2016 for the billionaires attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, estimates that there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the oceans already, with another 8 million tonnes being added each year.

A right royal crisis prods dormant unions into life

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Recent upheavals in the Royal College of Nursing are a sign of a wider transformation among nurses and white collar workers, argue Andy Ridley and Mark L Thomas

There were unusual scenes at the end of September in the Royal College of Nursing. Delegates at an Emergency General Meeting in Birmingham clashed with the RCN’s leadership over the way it had sold the 2018 NHS pay deal to members, while the leadership in turn attacked their critics as “political infiltrators”. Such red baiting however failed to stop a motion of no confidence in the RCN Council being overwhelmingly voted through. As a result the bulk of the RCN Council has stepped down to face immediate re-election contests.

Taking on the far right

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With a toxic realignment of the far-right seemingly taking place across the planet, how should socialists respond to push back against the racists?

We face a grim situation on a global scale. As Socialist Review went to press the second round of voting in the Brazilian election was about to take place and the far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, looked likely to be elected president.

This is a man who celebrates police killings and has said of left wingers, “These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland. It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history” — this in a country which was run by a right wing military dictatorship for over 20 years.

Intervening in the national immigration conversation

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A number of recent reports and surveys have contradicted the assumption that Brexit Britain is overwhelmingly racist and anti-migrant. However, writes Brian Richardson, there is still a long way to go to counter the racist ideas pumped out from above and enacted on the streets.

Mainstream politicians and pundits frequently lament the lack of a supposedly “grown up debate” about the impact of immigration in Britain. Such claims are usually followed by the suggestion that the reason for this is because the media is dominated by a cosmopolitan elite who are worried about causing offence to “ethnic minorities” and whose comfortable lifestyles protect them from any negative effects.

November 1918: Germany's revolutionary month

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Revolution was ignited in Germany 100 years ago by a mutiny of the North Sea Fleet at Kiel. Admirals decided to send it out on 30 October on a completely hopeless assault on the British Navy. Sailors organised to prevent the ships from leaving port. Their commanders responded by jailing more than 1,000 sailors. A mass solidarity movement was organised, led by women in the town, to defend the sailors, the workers of Kiel and nearby cities, and then the soldiers sent in to put down the revolt who ended up joining it.

The left and the European Union

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In the light of debates about how the left should relate to Brexit, Joseph Choonara discusses a new book examining the structural problems of the EU.

The People’s Vote march in London on Saturday 20 October, which, whatever the exact numbers, was one of the largest protests since the start of the new millennium, marked a strange fusion of social forces. On the one hand, many of the speakers at the march, along with those bankrolling the publicity and transport, were firmly part of the establishment.

Can Corbyn's Labour grasp the moment?

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The Tories’ Brexit troubles are escalating, with talk of an early general election returning. But can Corbyn’s Labour Party take advantage of the situation? Shaun Doherty investigates.

In any assessment of the Labour Party conference it’s useful to look beyond the headlines, particularly since some of them were quite remarkable.

After Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech to conference George Osborne’s London Evening Standard ran a front page featuring a caricature of Corbyn wearing a communist hat and carrying a volume of Marx, alongside the headline, “Corbyn: United, We Will Never be Defeated”.

German anti-racists stand up to the rise of the far-right

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Socialist Review spoke to left wing German MP Christine Buchholz about growing campaigns aimed at stopping the rise of the far-right

In terms of the situation in Chemnitz, it’s not just the AfD but other forces as well that have been involved on the far-right. What is the relationship between the AfD, the streets forces and the mainstream in terms of the growth there and what happened?

Rulers make ready for discontent

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The recent centralisation of authority around Xi Jinping, and moves to reinforce conformity within Chinese society, have more to do with preparations to confront a host of emerging economic, social and political issues than the formation of a new cult of personality, writes Adrian Budd.

At the end of February 2018 the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) proposed that the limit of two consecutive terms in office for the state president and vice-president be removed from the country’s constitution. The National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, rubber-stamped the change almost unanimously a few days later. The chief beneficiary of the change is Xi Jinping — state president, CPC leader and head of the armed forces.

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