Opinion

God, greed, and homophobia

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The Christian right in the US has been a bulwark of reaction for decades. John Newsinger discusses its integration in the New Conservative agenda championed by former president Ronald Reagan.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, the Christian right in the US had been content to act as cheerleaders for US capitalism against atheistic Communism abroad. This began to change in the 1960s and 1970s when social and political change threatened all they held dear.

The first great challenge was the Civil Rights Movement. It is ironic that the Christian right condemned the involvement of the likes of Martin Luther King in political campaigning on the grounds that the clergy should keep out of politics.

A whiff of change in the air

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Rena Niamh Smith continues her series of columns with a hopeful look at how the desire for a better world is feeding into the fashion world — but a more fundamental shift will be required for lasting change.

Flick through any fashion magazine and you get a taste for the current mood of change in fashion. Features on gender fluidity, the renaissance of slogan tee shirts, models of size and colour, shopping guides to the growing sustainable market suggest a brighter future led by Gen Z. Even the trend for baby pink has been linked to renewed interest in feminism.

Donald Trump’s model agency, founded in 1999, quickly went out of business following his election as the industry dropped connections to the odious mogul-turned-president.

Workers Party must share blame in Brazil

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In the discussion of Jair Bolsonaro’s election victory in Brazil, the role of the Workers’ Party (PT) in its own downfall is worthy of deeper analysis. The left has tended to shy away from this, focusing on the brutality of the right, but not looking hard enough at the conduct of both Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff in office. This is a common problem in describing the experience of the Pink Tide governments, not only in Brazil but also in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and other countries.

White House of horrors

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Yet another book about the chaotic nature of Donald Trump’s administration, Fear by Bob Woodward, came this autumn. Lewis Nielsen looks at what it tells us about the opposition to the chaos.

It’s easy to get tired of the scandals emanating from the White House after two years of seemingly constant coverage of Trump breaking establishment norms. The hiring and firing of staff, links with the Russians, the late night tweeting — we have heard it all before. Nevertheless Bob Woodward’s book Fear is an interesting addition to the chorus of voices revealing the chaos of Trump.

In God we entrust money

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Today’s religious support for the US regime is not new but was conciously created. John Newsinger talks about political evangelist Billy Graham and what has been called the Spiritual-Industrial Complex.

The Christian right played a vital role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency in November 2016. Evangelical Christians made up a third of electorate and four out of every five of them voted for Trump.

And, so far at least, they have remained loyal to the man they consider to be God’s Chosen. Understanding the strategic position they occupy in US politics today is vital.

Eco-fashioning a toxic trade

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Recent trends for “sustainable fashion” will not be sufficient to transform an industry inherently tied up with polluting practices and wasteful mass production from its inception, writes Rena Niamh Smith.

Fashion is a product industry, and as such, requires enormous amounts of resources to produce, distribute and dispose of what is sold. Typically, textiles and garments are mass-produced in the Global South, shipped to Western countries for consumption, and vast quantities of those which are not dumped in landfill are shipped to Africa and beyond to the vast second-hand market.

The world’s second most polluting industry after oil, fashion’s specific crimes against the planet are too numerous to list here, but cotton production provides a snapshot.

The ugly truth about beauty

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Rena Niamh Smith unpicks fashion’s ambiguous relationship with gender, revealing how it relies on the labour of poor women, while both exploiting people’s insecurities and claiming to celebrate “empowerment”.

Every fashion show I’ve ever attended names “strong women” as inspiration in the show notes, whether the collection was conceptual art pieces, or micro dresses and four-inch heels.

Style can be empowering. Angela Davis’s afro was a bold, beautiful middle finger to the Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on black women, symbolic of systematic oppression of black people. Like music, style is an art and individual garments, or hairstyles, both hold aesthetic merit and operate in a wider, often political, trend.

Fundamental British tosh

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The government’s Prevent strategy is inherently racist and it attempts to turn teachers into agents of the security services. Ümit Yildiz looks at the problems with enforcing a spurious notion of “British values”.

Paul Gilroy wrote that “racism does not, of course, move tidily and unchanged through time and history”. While on the surface “acceptable” racism in the UK has shifted its focus from colour to creed, culture and religion, its tools of operation remain the same: the judiciary, the police, the education system, the media, namely the British state itself.

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, already growing anti-Muslim racism was normalised by the US administration and successive British governments.

The future’s already here

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The IPCC climate change report grabbed headlines with the notion that we have 12 years to avert climate crisis. We would be better served by recognising that the crisis is happening now, writes Martin Empson.

The publication of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report in October provoked major discussion. Headline writers seized on a figure that suggested we have 12 years to prevent catastrophe.

Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the IPCC’s working group on impacts, used similarly apocalyptic language: “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now… This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

Scotland: business versus working class interests

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Demonstrations involving thousands of people from different parts of Scotland, organised by All Under One Banner (AUOB) calling for Scottish Independence, culminated in an Edinburgh march of 100,000 in October.

There is a growing impatience among the rank and file of the independence movement at the lack of headway by first minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership to announce a date for a second referendum, even though the Scottish government has a mandate from the Scottish parliament to do so.

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