Feature

Iraq: A Year to Remember

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A year since the invasion of Iraq and the government is still in a state of crisis. Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, analyses why.

Time to draw a line. Time to move on. So the government exhorts us as it tries to turn its back on the monumental failure which is the war and occupation of Iraq. Yet the line persistently refuses to be drawn. The government lies crushed under the nightmare of the war, desperately trying to move on to any other issue. It is now nearly a year since the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in Baghdad to proclamations of Iraqi liberation.

Freedom Music

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Martin Smith talks to Denys Baptiste about his new album, the civil rights movement and the struggle for freedom and justice today.

Denys Baptiste is a saxophone player from west London. His first album, Be Where You Are, was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and won a Music of Black Origin (Mobo) award. His wonderful new album Let Freedom Ring! is a tribute to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

What were your musical influences when you were growing up?

Haiti: The Meek and the Militant

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Haiti's current crisis is rooted in its history of colonialism.

Two hundred years ago a rag-tag army of slaves led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, himself a slave, defeated Europe's finest colonial armies and won independence for Haiti. This remarkable revolution is barely known outside Haiti, but the world's ruling powers have never forgiven the country and its people for their victory.

In the 1700s Haiti (then called San Domingo) was the richest colony in the world. The source of the wealth was the island's lush plantations and the brutal exploitation of half a million slaves captured from Africa.

Arab Civilisation: Found in Translation

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Modern language, science and culture owes much to the Muslim empire of the early Middle Ages.

'We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples.' The philosopher Al-Kindi, who wrote those words in 9th century Baghdad, understood better than most how much human history has been shaped by the interaction of different cultures. He was one of the thousands of Arab scholars employed to translate, analyse and develop Greek learning by the Abbasid caliphs, rulers of the great Muslim empire of the 8th to the 13th centuries.

Low Pay: Underbelly of the Beast

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Chanie Rosenberg looks at a new book exposing the scandal of the US working poor.

In the richest country in the world, the US, the working poor number 30 million and, with the families they struggle to support, millions more.

A low wage job in the US is one insufficient to meet the basic needs of the workers' families. But inadequate wages are only the beginning. Low wage jobs also mean few or no benefits, rigid schedules, late night shifts, unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and lack of respect. It is this 'piling on' that makes low wage jobs not just quantatively different than better paying jobs, but qualitatively different.

Education: Learning to Dream

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To New Labour, schools are factories churning out workers, but how could education be run in an equal society, asks poet Michael Rosen.

When you're in the middle of teaching and lecturing, it's hard and even painful to allow yourself time to imagine what education could be like. And yet it's something we have to do, because the most potent weapon we have has two edges - the dream of something better and the willingness to fight for it. To which we can add: if our dreams are too dreamy no one will join the fight and it is in the fight itself that we will glimpse new dreams.

Karl Marx: The Best Hated Man

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Karl Marx continues to be damned because of the revolutionary power he identified, argues Paul Foot.

Karl Marx was so famous when he died in March 1883 that eleven people went to his funeral at Highgate cemetery. The funeral oration given by his friend and collaborator Frederick Engels ended with the observation that Marx, though he was a delightful character, a loyal friend and a devoted father, was the 'best hated and calumniated man of his times'. That may have been true at the time but it became even more true later. Most socialists and revolutionaries can expect some relief from the abuse of high society after they are dead.

Respect: 'The Unity We're All Looking For'

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Julie Bundy and Gareth Jenkins spoke to activists at the launch convention about how they see the coalition developing.

Over 1,400 people attended the founding of the Respect coalition at Friends Meeting House in London at the end of January: the young and the old, trade unionists, the left and those who have come to politics though the anti-war movement. The convention represented something historic in British politics - an embryonic movement making a decisive break from seeing the Labour Party as the party of the working class.

The Necessity of Respect

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As Respect is launched John Molyneux looks at the political and historical context of the coalition - and seeks to answer the doubters.

The launching of Respect: the Unity Coalition to mount an electoral challenge to Blair and New Labour is a new political development. It is new for those directly involved - George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob, the SWP, the thousands of ex Labour supporters or formally uncommitted people who will join. It is also new in that no political formation like it has hitherto existed in British history.

Will China Beat the US?

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China's embrace of the market is cited as evidence that this is the model for Third World countries. Chris Harman looks at the reality behind the hype.

China is suddenly at the centre of discussions over the development of the world economy. This is not surprising. It has been undergoing sustained economic growth for more than two decades, escaping the slump which hit the other 'newly industrialising' economies of East Asia in the late 1990s, and is now the world's biggest steel producer. Its exports have grown from about 1.2 percent of the world total in 1980 to about 5 percent today (about the same as Britain's).

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