Opinion

100 years of RAF bombing

Issue section: 

This year the establishment has been celebrating the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. All very well if you enjoy celebrating colonialism made cheaper and more deadly.

In 1921 eight RAF planes carried out a bombing raid against a village in Iraq. The villagers were terrified and men, women and children fled their homes, taking shelter in the shallows of a nearby lake. This, as the official report noted, made them “good targets for the machineguns”.

Their crime was non-payment of taxes. For some reason the massacre of rebellious “natives” from the air for non-payment of taxes has not really figured in this year’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF.

Revolutionaries and the state

Issue section: 

History is littered with lessons on why workers’ action is the key to real change, and Marx’s insights are crucial.

This month marks 45 years since the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government in Chile. On 11 September 1973 general Augusto Pinochet seized power and within days oversaw the murder of about 30,000 people. Exile, prison and torture would follow for thousands more in the 17 years that Pinochet ruled the country.

Ireland: the border is the problem

Issue section: 
Author: 

One of the ways that Brexit negotiations are breaking down is over Ireland. Yet much of the discussion ignores both imperialist history and the consequences for working people.

At first glance the shape of the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country makes no sense. It is a squiggly line stretching 310 miles from Lough Foyle in the north west to Carlingford in the east. It follows no natural boundaries and cuts across 180 roads. Donegal is indisputably in the north of Ireland, but not part of Northern Ireland. Neither was the border based on the division of Ireland into four historical provinces with Ulster as the northern one. Three counties of Ulster — Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal — were excluded from the newly created statelet.

Behind the cloak of glamour

Issue section: 

In a new series of columns Rena Niamh Smith will look at aspects of the fashion industry, from ideology to racism, sexism and the environment. She begins with Fashion Week and how it conceals the system beneath.

This month, Spring/Summer 2019 Fashion Week swaggers into New York, followed by London, Milan and Paris. The carnival of shows is one of the most visible elements of an industry which cloaks itself in mystery. It is a multimillion-pound charade masking practices typical of capitalism: worker exploitation and artificially high consumption of the world’s resources.

Truck strike deepens crisis

Issue section: 
Author: 

At the end of May, Brazil faced the largest strike of truck drivers in its history. Member of left wing party PSOL Jorge Almeida reports on the background to the strike and its likely repercussions.

The majority of Brazil’s cargo transportation is composed of 2.3 million truck drivers, who carry about 60 percent of the goods. So the impact of the 11-day strike, when thousands of trucks were stopped, and more than 500 road blocks were established, was immense. There was a fuel shortage at the gas stations, damaging the day-to-day functioning of the economy. Entrepreneurs estimate a loss of £15 billion.

Unions and democracy

Issue section: 
Author: 

The strike by lecturers this year led to a new confidence which clashed with the leadership at the congress of the University and College Union. Megan James looks back at the history of holding leaders to account.

Over the past twelve months, struggles in Higher Education have had a potency and engagement with people moving into political action for the first time that is unprecedented, certainly since the early 1970s. I personally have known nothing like it and the past year has been the most exhilarating and productive of my political life.

Fighting austerity fuels independence

Issue section: 

We were told the sharp fall in the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Westminster seats last year was proof that Scots had rejected independence. Not so, according to the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey released in June.

It said the increase in support for independence in the 2014 referendum “has proven to be much more than a short-term phenomenon”.

Despite the SNP vote dropping from 50 percent to 37 percent between the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, with 21 fewer seats, there was no corresponding slump in support for independence.

Letter from South Korea

Issue section: 
Author: 

The handshake in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un marked a radical shift in US policy towards North Korea. It was an unfamiliar scene, indeed. For more than 70 years, US and North Korea have been in armed stand-off. During the summit Kim is reported to have told Trump: “Many people will think of this as a form of fantasy… a science-fiction movie.” While the US president declared, “We have developed a very special bond.”

Great war on a knife edge

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

In spring of 1918 the German military began an offensive against the allies called Operation Michael. Steve Guy details its impact on the strategy of allied forces and the tensions it led to between them.

When the Russian Revolution propelled the Bolsheviks into power in 1917, they made good on their commitment to take Russia out of the war and concluded an armistice with Imperial Germany. But the Germans insisted on imposing onerous conditions on the Bolsheviks who, faced with the overwhelming might of their military machine, were compelled to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Royals remain out of touch

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The rich man at his castle,/ The poor man at his gate;/ God made them high or lowly./ And ordered their estate.

That was one of the verses of a popular hymn we used to sing when I was a child.

Exactly one mile away from my primary school is a real castle and it was here that Henry Charles Albert David Windsor married Meghan Markle on 19 May.

Pages

Subscribe to Opinion