Feature

Capitalism takes our breath away

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John Sinha investigates how the motor industry continues to poison us.

On describing the environmental conditions facing the working class in the newly industrialised cities of the Lancashire mill towns in the 1840s, Friedrich Engels noted, “And if life in large cities is, in itself, injurious to health, how great must be the harmful influence of an abnormal atmosphere in the working-people’s quarters, where, as we have seen, everything combines to poison the air.” Air pollution has been a fact of working class urban life since the industrial revolution. What was true for the Lancashire mill towns is true of New Delhi in India or Xingtai in China today.

Home care workers have shown the way to fight

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In the second part of her series on women workers, Jane Hardy celebrates the Birmingham home care workers’ inspiring fight.

Women have been at the frontline of austerity since the 2008 financial crisis. A TUC report showed that cuts in the public sector have meant falling wages, underemployment and casualisation. But care workers in Birmingham, mainly women, have taken on their bosses who have bullied them, tried to impose atrocious working practices, slash their wages and dismantle their service.

The landscape of the far right

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Weyman Bennett looks back at the past decade of crisis and renewal on the far right, and assesses the threat facing anti-racists and anti-fascists in contemporary Britain.

The growth of fascism and the far right is a consequence in large part of the economic crisis of 2008. The neoliberal centre ground has eroded, leading to polarisation and the rise of figures like Jeremy Corbyn on the left — but also, increasingly, the rise of a new right, building on the state racism that targets migrants and Muslims in particular.

How fascism has been reinvented

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How important is the concept of fascism in the 21st century? And how should we define it? French author Ugo Palheta spoke to Socialist Review about how these questions play out in France today.

Many people argue that fascism is a historical phenomenon connected to the interwar period and has no relevance in the 21st century. Why do you insist on the continuity of the fascist project, as you have put it?

The new climate change rebels

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Socialist Review spoke to Jess Lichtenstern of Extinction Rebellion about the aims and intentions of the movement and school student Cyrus Jarvis after the magnificent schools strike last month.

Jess Lichtenstern, Extinction Rebellion

SR: What does rebellion mean to you, and where do you think power lies?

JL: Rebellion in itself, to me, is about doing things that you believe are right regardless of if they are in alignment with the law. It’s about questioning everything you do and making decisions accordingly, and this rebellion is doing that in a very specific way. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is saying we’re in a state of emergency and we’re not acting like it. We’re going about our daily lives, continuing business as usual.

Can implicit bias explain racism?

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Twenty years on from the Macpherson report focus has shifted from institutional racism to unconsious bias. How helpful is this concept in the fight against racism, asks Esme Choonara.

When the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, chaired by William Macpherson, announced in 1999 that the police were institutionally racist, it was a huge vindication of the struggles and arguments of black people and the wider anti-racist movement. Yet 20 years on, there is widespread denial of institutional racism. The London Met police commissioner Cressida Dick recently said she doesn’t see it “as a helpful or accurate description”.

The fight for equal pay

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In the first of a three-part series, Jane Hardy sets out the history of women’s struggle for equal pay, which is longer than you might think. In the next installments she will look at more recent battles.

Despite the huge expectations raised by the Equal Pay (1970) and Sex Discrimination (1975) Acts, four decades later the gains for women in the workplace are mixed. Between 1975 and 1995 only 2,000 cases under the equal pay legislation were taken to court. By the 21st century it became clear that discriminatory pay for women was alive and kicking. The restructuring of pay grades in local authorities in the name of equality had, in some cases, left women with worse pay than men.

How austerity hurts women

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Underlying the sexism women experience is a structural oppression based on women’s role in the family, exacerbated by austerity, writes Jan Nielsen

The #MeToo campaign has rightly shone a glaring light on the misogyny and discrimination that women experience. Less publicised has been the striking increase in inequality that women are experiencing as a result of austerity, cuts to services and changes to the benefits system.

Recent government statistics show that women will shoulder a startling 85 percent of the burden of the government’s cuts to social security and tax changes by 2020. They also show that women’s incomes are being hit twice as hard as men’s as a result of changes to the tax and benefit system.

Iran 1979: an opportunity squandered

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Forty years ago protests in Iran rolled over into a revolution. John Rose tells a tale of huge potential brutally suppressed.

The Iranian Revolution of February 1979 was one of the most startling events of the 20th century. This is true not just because of the almost total participation of the entire population in the active overthrow of the Shah, the dictatorial self-proclaimed monarch, but also because of the determination of the new regime to install what it described as an “Islamic Republic”.

Tory impasse: how can the left intervene?

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After two and a half years of negotiations, it is still absolutely unclear what will or will not happen with Brexit. Joseph Choonara looks at the scale of the crisis for Theresa May’s government, but also at the potential opportunities for the left to shape events, rather than simply spectate.

It is astonishing that, as I write this article, two months before Britain was scheduled to leave the European Union (EU), and after two and a half years of negotiation and planning, it is entirely unclear what fate awaits us.

Back in summer 2016, few people predicted that one of the greatest stumbling blocks would prove to be the Irish question — an issue fusing the legacy of Britain’s colonial past with the EU’s determination to police its external borders.

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