Opinion

Uprisings are driven by common trends

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The protests around the globe may not be a coordinated wave, but they share long-term roots, writes Joseph Choonara.

Chile: millions on the streets, protests and strikes amid images of burning buildings. Ecuador: the government flees the capital in the face of demonstrations. Hong Kong: five months of pitched battles between police and protesters. Catalonia: a general strike in response to the jailing of pro-independence politicians.

Off the Shelf: Fontamara

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Fontamara was a literary phenomenon when first published in 1933. To many readers, it quickly became the great anti-fascist novel, translated into 27 other languages and selling over 1.5 million copies around the world.

The Fontamara (bitter spring) of the title is a fictional village in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. The bulk of the population work the earth to survive, emigrate if that proves impossible, and are largely ignorant of events in the outside world. Mussolini might as well be governing from Mars as far as they’re concerned.

Culture Clash: Superheroes are cinema too

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Three giants of cinema have come out against the phenomenally successful series of superhero films produced by Marvel.

In early October Martin Scorsese argued Marvel films were “not cinema” and were more theme parks than films. Shortly after Francis Ford Coppola called Marvel films “despicable”.

Most recently the great socialist film director Ken Loach declared superhero films “boring”, “nothing to do with cinema” and a “cynical exercise” to make profits for big corporations.

Angela Davis: America's Most Wanted

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In the second of three columns looking at the life, politics and activism of Angela Davis, we hear how her arrest made her an international symbol of resistance

It’s 1969, and Angela Davis is now an assistant professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Davis, the Governor of California at the time was Ronald Reagan who, alongside the university’s senior management, embark on a witch hunt against her.

They first tried to to fire her on the grounds of being a member of the communist party, but a judge dismisses the case; but not before more than 1,500 students attend her lectures out of solidarity.

Hong Kong: Tactics are up for debate

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Last month we spoke to Hong Kong revolutionary socialist Lam Chi Leung about the mass movement. Following events in the past month, as well as reponses from readers, we caught up with him again.

How is the mood in Hong Kong since Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill on 4 September?

Lam’s announcement was largely a case of striking a pose. As early as mid-June she had halted the legislative change, but she had avoided using the word “withdrawal”. More noteworthy is the fact that she completely refused to accept the remaining four demands of the mass movement (for an independent commission to investigate police violence, the withdrawal of the “riot” designation, the release of arrested protestors, and genuine universal suffrage).

From segregation to black liberation

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This is the first of three columns looking at the life, politics and activism of Angela Davis, a living icon for revolutionaries

Angela Davis is an icon for many, a fighter for black and women’s liberation and a revolutionary to the core. But some seem to forget the revolutionary bit.

Davis’s childhood was defined by racism, violence, fear and resistance, shaping who she went on to become.

Trump forced onto back foot by Iran

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Donald Trump has learned that the Middle East is a complex and dangerous place where bellicose threats on Twitter count for little.

The US president has been talking up the threat of war on Iran since he came to office, prompted no doubt by Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have long feared the growing Iranian influence in an era of declining American power in the region.

Versailles: the settlement that settled nothing

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US president Woodrow Wilson celebrating the signing of the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was a vicious project, during which the Great Powers prioritised their own imperialist interests over the rhetoric of a “just and lasting peace”. Steve Guy looks at its consequences.

The Great War had ground on for four long years, and the Allied leaders were caught by surprise when revolution in Germany compelled the military dictatorship of Ludendorff and von Hindenburg to sue for peace in November 1918. As a result, the peace talks only commenced in January 1919, with a commitment by the Allies to producing a “just and lasting peace”. In fact, there were five peace treaties concluded by late 1920. Of the five, the one with Germany, the Treaty of Versailles, levied the most onerous demands on the vanquished foe.

Kashmir: the poisoned legacy of partition

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The plight of the Kashmiris has long roots, stretching back to the end of Empire and the division of India after the Second World War.

Kashmir is the most militarised region on the planet. An estimated half a million Indian security personnel police a population of about 7 million.

About 80,000 have been killed in an insurgency against Indian rule. From 2016, shotguns filled with lead pellets have been used for “crowd control”, deliberately fired to blind civilian protesters. Stories of torture, rape and abduction abound among the mainly Muslim population.

Johnson's bluster on crime

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The prime minister, like many before him, has advocated greater police numbers and increased stop and search powers. This approach won’t tackle the issues fuelling violent crime, writes Brian Richardson.

“Entitlement, aggression, amorality, lack of concern for others.” That was how one woman described a particularly notorious member of the Bullingdon Club during her time as a student at Oxford University in the 1980s. She recalls “with extreme regret and embarrassment” her role acting as a scout for an organisation which was characterised by a culture of vandalism and intimidation. Women were routinely belittled at its lavish dinners while others were recruited to perform sex acts.

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