Alex Callinicos

When Disaster Strikes

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Review of 'The Spirit of Terrorism', Jean Baudrillard, Verso £8; 'Ground Zero', Paul Virilio, Verso £8 and 'Welcome to the Desert of the Real!', Slavoj Zizek, Verso £8

The attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 were, among other things, a cultural event. The destruction of the twin towers in particular was intended to have a symbolic effect. As Jean Baudrillard puts it, the towers 'have disappeared. But they have left us the symbol of their disappearance, their disappearance as symbol. They, which were the symbol of omnipotence, have become, by their absence, the symbol of the possible disappearance of that omnipotence--which is perhaps an even more potent symbol.'

And Justice for All?

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Alex Callinicos reviews the life of liberal political philosopher John Rawls.

The American philosopher John Rawls, who died last November at the age of 82, was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. His reputation rests chiefly on 'A Theory of Justice', first published in 1971. This long and densely argued book singlehandedly rescued liberal political philosophy from the decay into which it had descended.

Duncan Hallas - Thinker, Orator, Revolutionary

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Alex Callinicos examines the extraordinary life of Duncan Hallas.

Duncan Hallas, who died on 19 September, was one of the outstanding figures of British Trotskyism. In him the best traditions of the British working class movement fused with the revolutionary Marxist heritage. As a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party he played a crucial role in transmitting this heritage to the new generations who emerged from the movements of the past 35 years.

Scar on the Conscience of the World

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Review of 'Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa', ed. Leo Zeilig, New Clarion Press £12.95

Tony Blair's stance towards Africa effectively sums up that taken by the rulers of the world more generally. At the Labour Party conference last October he called Africa 'a scar on the conscience of the world'--before authorising the sale to impoverished Tanzania of a military air traffic control system that even the World Bank has condemned as inappropriate. Africa, in other words, is a basket case, there just to be exploited economically and militarily.

The plight of Africa is indeed grim. Giovanni Arrighi sums it up in the latest issue of New Left Review:

Just Like My Dreams They Fade and Die

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Review of 'The Boom and the Bubble', Robert Brenner, Verso £15.00

Amid the dismal picture global capitalism has presented since its supposed 'triumph' in 1989, there has been one apparent success story--the United States. The boom of the second half of the 1990s was hailed as the emergence of a 'New Economy' powered by information technology that was no longer subject to the normal ups and downs of the capitalist cycle.

Unity in Diversity

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The movement against neoliberalism and war must be built, but so too must the revolutionary Marxist current within it.

The 2000s are proving to be a new era of mass movements. This is most spectacularly reflected in the international campaigns against global capitalism and against the 'war on terrorism'. Of necessity, these movements unite a wide range of political forces in common action. The anti-capitalist movement prides itself on its unity in diversity. The second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre brought together a very wide spectrum that extended from French and Brazilian social democrats to revolutionary socialists and autonomists.

Obituary: A Man of Distinction

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Alex Callinicos remembers the life and work of French radical Pierre Bourdieu.

The great French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu died of cancer in a Paris hospital on 23 January. Born to a peasant background in southern France in 1930, Bourdieu reached the pinnacle of the French university system, becoming a professor at the Collège de France. But he never forgot what in a famous book he called 'The Weight of the World'--the suffering experienced by ordinary people. In the last decade of his life Bourdieu threw himself into political activity, becoming one of the champions of the movement against capitalist globalisation.

Parliament of the People

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The international movement against capitalist globalisation faces two important tests. The first is the protests against the bosses' jamboree of the World Economic Forum, moved this year from Davos in Switzerland to New York. The second is the World Social Forum (WSF) that meets in Porto Alegre in Brazil between 31 January and 5 February.

Porto Alegre is the capital of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. It first sprang to prominence a year ago, when 13,000 people from 117 countries gathered there to attend the first WSF. A kind of global parliament of the anti-capitalist movement, the WSF throbbed with the life of all the different campaigns and coalitions represented there. A live television link-up allowed representatives of the movement led by Walden Bello to debate - and wipe the floor - with George Soros and other corporate stiffs in Davos.

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