Opinion

Different aspirations

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Class is often the missing element in politics, and when it is raised, it is in terms of suffering or aspiration, rather than power.

A quarter of a century ago socialist journalist Paul Foot observed, “When the Labour Party was first formed, and had to win votes from the Liberals, politics for Labour Party people was saying what you believed and persuading people to vote for it. Today, stricken by psephology, politics for Labour is finding out what most people believe and pretending to agree with them.”

Can divestment save the world?

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Four years ago a report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative sparked the global campaign to persuade universities, faith organisations and public institutions to sell financial holdings in fossil fuel companies.

The reasoning behind the divestment campaign is simple. Fossil fuel emissions have played a major role in setting the world on course to a 5˚C rise in temperatures.

Limiting global warming to 2˚C is generally agreed as being a safe limit to avoid catastrophic climate change requires leaving around 82 percent of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

The dark heart of West Germany

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Günter Grass, novelist, poet and human rights campaigner, died in April aged 87. He was called the conscience of Germany, or more accurately West Germany. But at the heart of both the writer and the state lay a dark secret that has haunted his reputation. He was born in 1927 in the “free” city of Danzig, a port between Germany and Poland, today Gdansk in Poland. Its free-ness was a state given after the First World War as a price paid by Germany for its defeat.

Marxist feminism: A question of class

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Can Marxism shape feminism? And if so, what kind of Marxism and what kind of feminism? A 500-strong conference in Berlin provided some answers but left some questions open, writes Sheila McGregor

Along with the rise of the “new feminism” has come a resurgence of interest in Marxist feminism and materialist approaches to the question of women’s oppression. The publication of new books, such as the collection of essays Marxism and Feminism (ed Shahrzad Mojab), and the re-publication of old ones by socialist and Marxist feminists like Lise Vogel and Michele Barrett are signs of this.

Summers vs Bernanke: Sick capitalism

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Heavyweight economists can offer only a partial understanding of the weak recovery. Step forward, Karl Marx.

A fascinating debate is taking place between former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers and former US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke. These two big beasts of economics are slugging it out over the reasons for the weakness of the half decade long recovery.

Safe spaces?

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The cancellation of feminist comedian Kate Smurthwaite’s gig at Goldsmiths College in February — possibly out of fear of protests by other feminists over her views on sex work — has escalated into a row over who is allowed to speak on campuses and who decides.
Different examples are being lumped together with little clarity. A recent article in the Guardian is a good example:

Centenary of a genocide

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The Turkish president's attempts to detract attention from the centennial of the massacre of around 1.5 million Armenian looks set to fail. Ron Margulies recalls the genocide and its gradual unveiling.

The Turkish victory at Gallipoli is celebrated every year on its anniversary, 18 March. Not because it gave a bloody nose to the Winston Churchill, about whom Turks know and care little, but because it launched the career of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as great hero and “nation-builder” of modern Turkey.

How about a life in politics?

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Donny Gluckstein asks what the relationship is between “politics”, the state and radical social change, looking at reformist and revolutionary strategies as well as the rejection of it all in the form of anti-politics.

The foundations of mainstream politics are crumbling and the results are both exhilarating and troubling. Alongside the recent election victory of Syriza, and with Podemos topping Spanish polls, there is the frightening growth of the far-right in many European countries.

All white on the night

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The arts establishment struggled to explain the lack of black and Asian actors shortlisted for the British film industry’s Bafta awards last month.

Benedict Cumberbatch managed to stuff a foot in his mouth, saying, “As far as ‘coloured’ actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities [in the US] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.” Of course, Hollywood’s Oscars didn’t show any sign of recognising the array of non-white talent either, with an equally unrepresentative crop.

An alternative for Scotland

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The radical left has a real opportunity to build on the referendum vote, argues Carlo Morelli, as neither the "austerity-lite" of the Labour Party nor the SNP's "one nation" addresses the needs of the working class.

The Scottish Independence referendum in September 2014 marked a watershed in Scottish politics. It created a dynamic change in Scottish politics and arguments as to the implications for the future. Central to this debate is the question of class, as it was the movement of the working class that determined both the outcome of the referendum and its consequences.

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