Opinion

Maradona: rebel genius

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The clichés about Diego Maradona being the “half-devil, half-angel” of world football deliberately overlook his passionate, anti-imperialist politics, writes Mark Brown.

Diego Armando Maradona, who died in November aged 60, was an icon of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. A kid from Villa Fiorito — a desperately impoverished shantytown in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina — he rose to become the greatest footballer of his generation, perhaps of any generation.

Gaza: pressure cooker

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A combination of Israel’s brutal blockade of this small patch of Palestinian land alongside the ravages brought by Covid-19 has produced an enormous level of stress and mental distress for tens of thousands of people. Yasser Abu Jamei, director of Gaza Community Mental Health Centre, reports.

Two million people are living in an area of 365 square km, with only 5 percent portable, piped water and eight hours of electricity a day. This is merely the tip of the iceberg of just how bad living conditions are in Gaza today.

Around half of the population live below the poverty line (53 percent), youth unemployment is almost 70 percent and around three-fifths of households are severely or moderately food insecure (62 percent). The United Nations warned in 2012 that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020 unless basic services and conditions are improved.

A well-tuned fiddle

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Camilla Royle addresses the claim that Friedrich Engels, far from being Karl Marx’s key collaborator, held fundamentally different philosophical positions that distorted Marx’s revolutionary conclusions

Friedrich Engels described himself as “second fiddle” to his friend and comrade Karl Marx. Marx is rightly counted among the most influential thinkers the world has ever seen. But what role did Engels play in the founding of Marxism?

Marx himself said he would not have been able to produce Capital without the support of Engels.

Looking to the struggles outside of parliament

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To say 2020 was dramatic would be an understatement. The world situation has been completely transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the inadequacy of governmental and state responses. As we head into 2021 it feels like we are entering uncharted territory. To make specific predictions would be unwise. But the Covid-19 crisis raises fundamental questions about the nature of capitalism and how the left should organise.

Why a Biden/Harris White House can only disappoint expectations

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Brian Richardson looks at the hope for real change raised by BLM

I t has often been observed that the US vice-president is just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Constitutionally the post holds little power. Indeed one incumbent, John Nance Garner is reported to have described it as “not worth a bucket of warm spit”. Given the age and obvious infirmity of Biden, there is a very real possibility that Kamala Harris will be more than merely a ceremonial VP. Much has been made of the fact that she is the first woman and the first Asian-American to be elected to the post.

Stepping into a hostile environment

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We conclude our analysis of the plight of migrants with Part 2 of Refugees Under Siege, by a Calais-based refugee activist. In it, we look at what awaits refugees who make it to Britain.

I f the refugees make it to Britain, they exchange one hostile environment for another. Sajid Javid, while Home Secretary, first declared it a national emergency that a small number of refugees were getting across the Channel on boats. Since then the vitriol has expanded and the situation for refugees who arrive has worsened. Priti Patel has launched a full-scale assault on those who cross, backed by the whole of the Cabinet, every Tory MP, most of the press and of course, the far right.

Corruption old and new

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Politics in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century was described as the “Old Corruption”. The state was, at every level, in the hands of the great landowners and their allies. It was used to serve their interests, to protect their wealth and privilege, and they ruthlessly pillaged it to further enrich themselves. Place and position were wholly at their disposal. What made all this possible was the enormous scale of social and economic inequality. This Old Corruption came under sustained assault from a number of directions in the course of the nineteenth century.

Who is to blame for the rise in obesity?

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The government announced a new initiative to tackle obesity, but it is limited, poorly resourced and fails to
acknowledge that the stress of living under capitalism is a major cause of the condition, argues Rhoda Thomas.

The government’s role in supporting the food industry — evident throughout the pandemic — is to encourage us to eat and drink (witness the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme) and to return to work in city centres, thus giving a boost to pubs and coffee shops, regardless of health risks. Simultaneously, it lambasts us for ‘obesity’ — a kind of ‘gaslighting’ whereby we come to believe that obesity is of our own doing, thus deflecting from the reality of ‘profits before people’.

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