Feature

The looming tragedy of extinction

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Global capitalism is not only creating climate change but bringing about the extinction of millions of animal and plant species. Sarah Ensor explains the crisis, and what we can do to stop it.

In less than 80 years global capitalism has created a biodiversity crisis on a scale that has never been seen before in human history. One million of the estimated eight million animal and plant species on Earth are currently at risk of extinction. If the causes of this catastrophe aren’t challenged, many will die out without ever being identified, named, understood or appreciated for their vital role in our ecosystems.

Iraq's climate crisis: war, water and resistance

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The ‘land of the two rivers’ renowned for its fertile valleys and agriculture is turning into a vast wasteland. Richard Donnelly explains how the US occupation and neoliberalism has drained the country of life.

Iraq is thirsty. A water crisis is gripping the country. One-in-five of its 38 million people do not have access to clean water, and its historically fruitful farming lands are increasingly scorched and sterile.

What makes a disease go viral?

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Lee Humber finds the true origins of the Coronavirus epidemic in the innards of the food industry.

Viral epidemics are not uncommon. This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in years, according to the US Centre for Disease Control. In the US alone there have been 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalisations and 10,000 deaths.

More than 200 people in the UK had died from the 2018-19 winter strain of flu virus by February 2019, and there were more than 2,000 critical cases despite the relatively small numbers of people contracting it — meaning the virus had become more virulent. People who had been previously fit and well became critically ill.

Putting the struggle back into International Women's Day

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Our celebration of women’s struggles begins by revealing the contrast between how capitalism has sought to commodify the event, and its origins in the fight against oppression. We then hear from activists around the world about their priorities in the fight for equality, respect and liberation. Interviews compiled by Jan Nielsen.

International Women’s Day has come a long way. It began as a militant, socialist protest against the inequality and exploitation endured by working-class women. It won the support of tens of thousands of working-class men and women, who marched and went on strike for the right to vote and equal pay. Today, it still has a radical edge in some parts of the world, but too often those radical origins are almost buried underneath a tide of tokenism and commodification.

Nineteen Eighty-Four and all that

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Seventy years after his death, George Orwell has been canonised by the literary establishment as a liberal critic of totalitarianism. John Newsinger argues that his life and his work show him to be a harsh a critic of capitalism, and a staunch supporter of the struggles of the “common people”.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published in 1949 when its author was already seriously ill. He was to die, aged only 46, in January 1950. One consequence of his early death was that his book was successfully hijacked by the right, both in Britain and the United States. It was turned into an ideological weapon in the Cold War, used to defend the interests of British and American imperialism and to undermine the left throughout the world. It is today once again a bestseller, speaking to a new audience in a very different world.

Interview: Hegel, history and revolution

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Terry Sullivan and Donny Gluckstein spoke to Socialist Review about Hegel, history and dialectics and why we still need to understand them.

Why should any socialist today care about Hegel? Wasn’t he just a difficult, abstract, bourgeois philosopher?

We would argue Hegel is worth careful attention even though he is a difficult, abstract and bourgeois philosopher and reading him is “like chewing gravel”. That was one reason to write a book that makes the core of his thought accessible. What is significant is not this or that particular piece of writing, but the overall method and approach that he adopted. This was applied by Marx in his time, and can and should still be applied by socialists today.

Lecturers head back into battle

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Tens of thousands of university workers are set to go on strike this month. Michael Bradley looks at the roots of the dispute and the debates about strategy within the movement.

Tens of thousands of lecturers across Britain, organised by the University and College Union (UCU), are set to come out on strike for up to 14 days in February and March in a dispute over pensions, pay, workload, equalities and casualisation. More than 40,000 workers have already taken part in eight days of strike action last December.

Australia's political firestorm

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The startling effects of climate change have highlighted the global catastrophe for people who might have thought they were immune. Camilla Royle explains the political context of the crisis and Caitlin Doyle looks at why the government wants business as usual, despite the evidence.

The huge fires ripping through the Australian bush over the past few months have brought climate change home. Although people in the Global South are the most vulnerable, and the fires come at the same time as devastating floods in Jakarta, Indonesia, the climate catastrophe is also reaching the wealthier countries.

Vasily Grossman always sided with the oppressed

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Some have tried to claim Russian author Vasily Grossman, whose novels Life and Fate and the newly translated Stalingrad are considered masterpieces, as a supporter of the West and proponent of rugged individualism. Bob Light reclaims him for a radical tradition that rejects all rulers.

When he died in September 1964 just one English-language publication considered the Russian writer Vasily Grossman worthy of a memorial, with only the New York Times carrying a perfunctory hundred-word unsigned obituary. None of his writing was available outside Russia, and next-to-none was available inside Russia. In the sub-zero atmosphere of the Cold War in the “West” Grossman was just another Stalin-period hack; in the Russian empire he was an unreliable has-been who could not find a publisher.

Should we build more houses?

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The answer seems obvious but, as thermal efficiency expert Fergus Nicol says, once global warming and energy conservation are factored in, the solution to the housing crisis is more complicated.

The shortage of housing, particularly for people on low incomes, is a major issue. The extent of the shortage is made visible by the number of homeless people forced to sleep rough on the streets. According to research by the housing charity Shelter, at least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, with more than 4,000 of these sleeping rough. The need for council housing vastly outstrips supply, with around 1.24 million UK households on local authority waiting lists.

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