In perspective column

Double edged 'democracy'

Issue section: 
Author: 

The people of Poland demanded democracy in 1989 - but 20 years on the economy is still controlled by a tiny elite.

Anniversaries do not always bring people the joy they expect. Last month was meant to have seen a celebration by Poland's rulers outside the shipyards in the city of Gdansk. It was to commemorate political changes in Poland and Hungary in the summer of 1989, which saw the first free elections for more than 40 years.

Myths of the white working class

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Talk of the existence of a unique and specifically deprived white working class being discriminated against conceals the real issue of class inequalities

A series of walkouts under the divisive slogan "British jobs for British workers" early in the year drew unprecedented attention from the press and put strikers on the front page of a sympathetic Daily Mail. The strikes were hugely contradictory - a godsend to nationalism, racism and the British National Party while defying the anti-union laws. The mainstream media focused on the former and were broadly delighted.

Slump, boom and climate change

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

From the European Union to Barack Obama, promises have been made to give priority to a "green agenda". In reality, they are using the recession to go into reverse.

A recent, bad TV programme made one interesting point - that devastating transformations in the climate, as a result of the apparently slow build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will hit people at some point with the same suddenness as the economic crisis that is now sweeping the world.

India: Poverty behind the tiger

Issue section: 
Author: 

India's growing economy has benefited a corrupt elite. But the masses only get poorer.

November's deadly attacks in Mumbai had one peculiar side-effect on the British media. Journalists were forced out into the streets and discovered that the vast majority of the city's population are still poor.

Since then the deep contrast between the lives of India's upper middle class and that of the mass of people has been emphasised in Aravind Adiga's Man Booker Prize winning novel, The White Tiger, and Danny Boyle's rags to riches film, Slumdog Millionaire.

Was the 'New Deal' a good deal?

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

It is accepted wisdom that President Franklin D Roosevelt pulled the US out of the Depression with the New Deal. But in reality there were numerous forces at play.

Will Barack Obama be another Franklin D Roosevelt? That is the question many people are asking. Underlying the question is the assumption that Roosevelt, elected for the first time in November 1932, single-handedly brought about radical change in the US, providing a solution to the Depression that followed the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

The politics of economics

Issue section: 
Author: 

The efforts of governments and central bankers to prop up the financial system and make workers pay for the crisis can be derailed by rising anger.

Great economic crises cause ructions within global capitalism, both among those who exploit and rule, and among those whose labour keeps the system going.
This year's financial crisis is no exception. Not since the collapse of the old Eastern bloc and the USSR in 1989-91 have we had a spectacle of major ruling classes being thrown into such turmoil.

Two faces of John Maynard Keynes

Issue section: 
Author: 

Economists, both left and right, are championing Keynes as the answer to the crisis. Since his theories do little to challenge the fundamental grip of capitalism, isn't it time for those on the left to recognise his flaws?

"Everyone is in thrall to the great economist now." So ran a piece in the Financial Times about John Maynard Keynes. And so it seems. The same message comes from US treasury secretary Hank Paulson and the Fed's Ben Bernanke at one extreme and from left wingers like Larry Elliot and Graham Turner at the other. Keynes showed in the 1930s how to stop crises, they all say, and his methods can work now.

Chorus of hypocrites

Issue section: 
Author: 

It comes easy for liberal commentators to condemn some human rights abuses and invasions, but why do they always stop short of denouncing the outrages perpetrated by the Western powers?

What a year it's been for denunciations of oppression and militarism in the media, particularly the BBC. They have condemned the crimes of the Burmese junta, repression by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the Sudanese militias in Darfur, public hangings in Iran, Chinese repression in Tibet and now the Russian army in Georgia. Images of devastation have been accompanied by journalistic descriptions of brutality, denunciations by George Bush and Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, John McCain and Barack Obama - and demands from liberal commentators that "something must be done".

The emperors, and their clothes

Issue section: 
Author: 

Two new books on the state of the economy expose the speculation and greed that have propped up Gordon Brown's so-called boom years

What a difference a year makes. The conventional wisdom at the beginning of last summer was that the economy was performing wonders. Graham Turner, Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson were among a small minority of economists and commentators prepared to say the emperor had no clothes. Now everyone can see that they were right.

Workers' unity in the face of Enoch Powell's racism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Socialists watched in despair when dockers and building workers marched in support of Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech. But the tide turned and a few years later dockers were marching for Grunwick strikers.

This year the left will be commemorating the events of May 1968, when students and workers rose up in Paris.

But those events were preceded in Britain by a dismal affair. The gutter press and right wing politicians launched a huge campaign against Asian families fleeing persecution in East Africa. The Labour government and nearly all the Labour MPs joined in. They pushed a bill through parliament in just one day, removing the right of Asians to enter this country even through they held British passports.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - In perspective column