Opinion

The enduring appeal of Marx

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Karl Marx was born two centuries ago. There have been ups and downs since, but he’s never gone entirely out of fashion. Sally Campbell introduces a monthly column looking at his life, work and relevance today.

The spectre of Karl Marx has never disappeared — a fact that will be reinforced when his bicentenary is celebrated this year on 5 May. A production at the National Theatre recently portrayed him as a lovable rogue. And a forthcoming film by Raoul Peck shows the young Marx, and his great friend Friedrich Engels, embedded in the revolutionary movements of the 1840s.

An open letter to Nick Cave

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Acclaimed rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played two shows in Tel Aviv in November in contravention of the international cultural boycott of Israel. Arts journalist and BDS activist Mark Brown has written the following open letter to Cave.

Dear Nick,
“Some people say it’s just rock and roll. Oh, but it gets you right down to your soul.” This lyric from your song “Push the Sky Away” could function as a shorthand expression of the relationship I have had with your work for much of my adult life.

As a theatre critic and arts journalist, I spend much of my professional life trying to find art works that transcend the banalities of everyday life and touch something profound in the human experience. Rarely am I as affected by the work I review as I am by your music.

Gordon Brown, bless him

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In his new memoir the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown seeks to rebrand himself as a cuddly old leftie fit for the Corbyn era. John Newsinger recalls some of the evidence to the contrary.

While there were never any serious policy differences between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, the conflict between the two men and their supporters was not just about personalities, or about who should be prime minister.

Welcome to the world of the plastic beach

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Modern capitalism’s throwaway society has created a crisis in the oceans. We must put blame where it’s due.

The BBC’s recent documentary series Blue Planet II, presented by David Attenborough, has kept viewers transfixed with its portrayal of the stunning diversity of wildlife in the oceans. It has also highlighted one of the world’s biggest environmental threats — plastic pollution.

Palestine and the Arab street

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Trump’s announcement that the US embassy will move to Jerusalem ignited protests across the world in solidarity with the Palestinians. On the steps of the Journalists’ Union building in Cairo demonstrators burned the American flag and brandished posters condemning Trump and his partner in crime, Egypt’s dictator Abdelfattah al-Sisi, while thousands took to the streets in Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

Passchendaele: the foulness of their fate

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The battle which came to be known as Passchendaele took place in Belgium in the second half of 1917. Steve Guy describes the horror faced by soldiers crawling through mud that had become like quicksand.

At the south east corner of the town of Ypres stands the Menin Gate, a vaulted arch mausoleum built of red brick and Portland stone and opened in 1927. It is a memorial to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers from the five battles that took place in the area beyond the town during the First World War, known as the Ypres salient.

A positive message from Scottish Labour

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Most people on the left in Scotland will welcome the election of Richard Leonard as the new leader of Scottish Labour. Clearly identifying himself as a socialist, though not as a “Corbynista”, his vote represents a major step forward for all those looking to see Labour become a party in Scotland which challenges the Tory agenda of austerity, cuts and the scapegoating of refugees and immigrants.

Korean War: ‘Systematic and ruthless destruction’

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It is important that we remember the war that created the belligerent North Korean regime, writes John Newsinger, and that Britain's Labour government supported it at the time, though the public didn't.

The threat that Donald Trump made at the United Nations to “totally destroy” North Korea should not be dismissed, not least because in the early 1950s another US president, Harry Truman, actually did destroy North Korea. Moreover, the destruction of the country was carried out with the full support of the UN, indeed on behalf of the UN.

US aerial bombardment literally laid the country waste. This crime was perpetrated when there was a sensible moderate Democrat in the White House rather than a pathological right wing narcissist.

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