Feature

Is our diet wrecking the environment?

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In the first of a series on food and the climate crisis, Amy Leather explains how capitalist agriculture has shaped our diet and the planet.

Earlier this year the Lancet medical journal published what they called the “planetary health diet”. They claimed that if their universal scientific targets for healthy diets were adopted, not only would it save at least 11 million lives but would also help avert global environmental catastrophe and prevent the collapse of the natural world. Their central message was that “the world’s diets must change dramatically” to both save ourselves and the planet. The diet they recommended was largely plant-based, and therefore boosted the claim that only by going vegan can we save the planet.

New sites of struggle in a changing China

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In a sobering and detailed analysis, Kevin Lin speaks to Adrian Budd about the resilience of workers’ struggles in China, despite fierce state repression.

The precarious working and living conditions of the millions of migrant labourers who have moved from rural to urban areas of China over recent decades made the development of an organised labour movement harder. Have the circumstances of these workers become more stable? Is their increased stability helping to develop class consciousness?

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 million 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”.

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.

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.

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