Opinion

To Vote or Not to Vote?

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It was wrong to call for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in the recent French elections.

One of the fascinating things about the present period is how it brings up old issues in a new form. Take the debate which erupted last month among the French revolutionary left about how to react after Le Pen came second in the first round of the presidential election, and knocked out the Socialist Party prime minister Jospin. It was very much a rerun of the arguments over the Popular Front between revolutionaries, Communist Party supporters and social democrats back in the 1930s.

Jackson's Hole

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New Labour's favourite union leader is facing problems in the forthcoming election.

A remarkable transformation appears to have overtaken Sir Ken Jackson in recent weeks--morphing from his customary incarnation as great lummox into the D'Artagnan of the TUC. Presumably this is not entirely unrelated to the fact that Sir Ken finds himself up for election again, an experience he had not entirely bargained for and one which he has not undergone since 1995.

Tired of Weighting

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The rising cost of living and shortages of labour means London's workers now have more industrial power.

On the face of it the issue of London weighting payments is not all that thrilling. Nevertheless, it has helped add a bit more spice to the recent upsurge of rank and file militancy which has managed to send the mainstream press into such a lather.

Argentina: Swimming with the Tide of Revolt

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As renewed political crisis sweeps Argentina, Chris Harman following a recent visit to the country argues there is a huge opening for the revolutionary left, provided it breaks from its sectarian past.

'It must have been fantastically exciting,' a lot of people said to me on my return from a visit to Argentina last month.

Christiania Incorporated

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Has the dream of the hippy commune now turned into a nightmare?

Twenty five years ago groups of hippies and squatters took over a military barracks in the centre of Copenhagen and announced the creation of a 'free territory at the heart of the city'. It was called Christiania. Walking through it today, the marks of the Christiania commune are still there--the makeshift huts surrounded by plants neatly set inside tin cans, the military blocks occupied by squatters and, in one case at least, turned into a halfway house for the homeless.

Silence is Golden

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Thatcher has at last agreed to shut up, although Tony Blair has now continued her legacy.

It was not the foot of Beckham, the last breath of some old royal or even Kylie's bottom that was the cause of most interest in trivia corner over the last month. No, it was the Trappist vow of silence that we are being assured Margaret Thatcher will keep from now on that caught this columnist's imagination.

Move Over, Darling

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Is your pension at risk? Yes, minister.

You would either need to have a very short memory or a tremendously blinkered New Labour kind of mindset to regard the latest crisis in the pensions industry as not worth getting all that worked up about. When a whole series of the biggest firms in the country suddenly announce that they are pulling out of 'final salary' pension schemes--because they claim they can no longer afford the payouts--and the top man at the National Association of Pension Funds starts talking about people having to work on to the age of 72, some of us might start to get a bit nervous.

Hegemony and Harmony?

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Despite its military dominance the US still has reason to fear its rivals.

Is there only one imperialism left? That is the question many people are asking as the US prepares to launch another war against Iraq.

It's fashionable to speak of a 'unipolar' world, in which the US is the 'great hegemon', its 'empire' unchallenged like that of Rome 2,000 years ago. In reality things are not that simple. The multiple war criminal Henry Kissinger certainly has his doubts. He wrote after the Gulf War and the collapse of the USSR:

It's Not a Dream--It's Possible

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The work of Studs Terkel lets ordinary Americans speak for themselves.

The working class has its historians too. Sometimes in the great debates about historical changes you miss the voices of people describing ordinary lives. After all, the sweep of history is as much about experience, about living through things, as it is about forces and events that shape us. In his great study 'The Making of the English Working Class', EP Thompson's preface was far reaching in its modest comment that 'I do not see class as a "structure", not even as a "category", but as something which in fact happens in human relationships...

A Different US and Them

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It's working class Americans we side with, not their government.

One of the most common accusations against those of us who are against this 'war on terrorism' is that we are anti-American--that we have a knee-jerk opposition to all that the US says and does because we hate the place the people and all things American.

This I find very strange, as in the various anti-war rallies and meetings I have attended, plus the wide variety of anti-war articles I have read, I have seen very little evidence of this anti-Americanism. Hostility to the Bush regime? Yes. Hostility to US foreign policy? Yes. Hostility to the large US corporations? Yes.

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