Opinion

Orwell or Carroll?

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Many people have turned to George Orwell and his novel Nineteen Eighty Four for assistance in trying to understand the Trump presidency and its implications for both the US and the wider world. This is a mistake. Orwell certainly offers insight into the activities of the many Big Brothers who have paraded on the world stage since he wrote the novel, but if the truth be told, Big Baby is completely beyond him.

When hypocrisy’s in fashion

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A handful of significant appointments of black designers and cover stars marks something of a change for the fashion industry, but racism is rooted in much deeper structural problems.

This year is being hailed as a breakthrough year for black figures in the fashion industry.

Virgil Abloh was appointed creative director for menswear at Louis Vuitton. Ghanaian-born Edward Enninful, who took over as editor-in-chief of British Vogue in late 2017, made Rihanna the first black woman to star on the all-important September issue. A record number of other major magazines had black September cover stars, from Beyoncé for American Vogue to Slick Woods for Elle UK.

Glasgow model is no panacea for violence

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“Sadiq Khan’s Crime U-Turn” screamed the front page of the London Evening Standard on 19 September. The article’s subtitle added, “Mayor finally backs new public health approach we demanded”.

This followed the announcement by London’s mayor of a “new approach” to tackling violent crime in the capital.

The paper’s boastfulness continued in an editorial which indicated, “We welcome the zeal of the Mayor’s conversion even if he didn’t manage to find time to credit us.”

100 years of RAF bombing

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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