Opinion

Mental Health: Brave New World?

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Mental health services have become focused on generating profits and the use of labour-saving technologies as a key way of achieving this. Iain Ferguson looks at recent developments.

Robots that can hold simple conversations and learn people’s interests are being deployed in UK care homes after a trial found they could improve mental health and reduce loneliness, according to a recent report in the Guardian. The researchers who developed the machines stressed that the aim was not to replace human carers with robots but “to help fill periods when, because of a stretched social care system, staff did not have time to keep residents company”.

Students face Covid-19 chaos on campus

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By forcing students back to college, the government and university authorities have abandoned them to an ill
thought out strategy of ‘herd immunity’, and the consequences are a wildfire of infections, writes Carlo Morelli.

Since students returned to universities and colleges across the UK in September over 21,000 positive cases of Covid19 have been identified by the lecturers’ union, the UCU. These figures underestimate the true figures, since, according to research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as many as 80 percent of students may be asymptomatic and therefore are not being tested. Students are being subjected to a public health experiment in herd immunity without consent or any of the protection in place that would be expected in human medical trials.

The pandemic has exposed the abject failures of privatisation

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Central to neoliberal ideology is selling off public services, welfare and utilities to the private sector. The result has been disastrous for users. Jan Neilsen and Alan Gibson introduce our special report.

At the heart of the neoliberal project has been the privatisation of public services and other publicly held assets. The strategy — begun in Britain during the 1980s — has engulfed the world since. It was and is about one thing only: shifting wealth and the balance of class power to the global ruling class. Privatisation is a political tool with which global ruling classes have waged war for the past 40 years. It was never about setting free the more efficient private sector to replace the inefficient public sector, as we show below.

Nuclear Fusion: A new technology, but who controls it?

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With the first operational power plant only a decade away, can nuclear fusion live up to its promise of green power?

Within the climate movement of recent years there is much debate about the way forward. Some have looked towards exciting technologies to change capitalism from a carbon-based economy to a Green one. One of the most notable is nuclear fusion, an idea that has attracted scientists and venture capitalists for decades. But what are nuclear fusion technologies?

US elections: The movement is the key

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Amid Donald Trump’s bluster and threats over the forthcoming presidential race, the real power to fundamentally change the sick system is on the American street, says US activist Virginia Rodino

Last month US president Donald Trump was asked what he would do should he lose the election. He replied, “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster… There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” This follows Trump’s repeated blustering claims that the only way his opponent Joe Biden can win is through a rigged election.

Declassified

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On 4 December 1935, England played Germany at White Hart Lane, the Tottenham Hotspur football ground in north London. The game was seen by the Nazis as a great political and propaganda coup, especially coming so soon after Hitler devised the racist Nuremburg Laws that deprived German Jews of their citizenship and civil rights. In England, the decision to go ahead with the game met with considerable opposition, but the Conservative government and its supporters, together with Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, were positively enthusiastic.

To save nature, we must destroy capitalism

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The struggle for the natural world has always pitted the left against the right, now it’s become a battle for survival, argues Sarah Ensor

In the 19th century some scientists tried to understand the work of the ‘creator’, while others wanted knowledge to improve people’s lives. Chemist Justus von Liebig was trying to solve capitalism’s developing crisis of soil fertility in farming. His research into nitrates and chemical interactions in soil began to show that declining soil fertility was caused by the processes of capitalism, and was not natural. This work was deeply influential on Marx and Engels’s ecological thinking in relation to metabolic rift and the dialectics of nature.

Another black September

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“We, the Palestinians, are losing our shadow!” These are the words of 32-year-old Sanaa abo Gazal when I asked her to describe what life is like today in Gaza, the world’s largest prison. The people there simply cannot get out from under the 13-year siege imposed by Israel and Egypt. “They are waiting for their soul to come out of their body,” Sanaa says. “Two million are under siege. Two million are in curfew. No food. No electricity all day. No water every week. Some of us are waiting for the mercy of the Gulf states, dreaming of having the $100 from Qatar.”

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