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Declassified

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On 4 December 1935, England played Germany at White Hart Lane, the Tottenham Hotspur football ground in north London. The game was seen by the Nazis as a great political and propaganda coup, especially coming so soon after Hitler devised the racist Nuremburg Laws that deprived German Jews of their citizenship and civil rights. In England, the decision to go ahead with the game met with considerable opposition, but the Conservative government and its supporters, together with Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, were positively enthusiastic.

Declassified

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In the grounds of Lews castle on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides there is an impressive monument commemorating the achievements of a certain James Matheson. It was erected in 1880, some two years after his death and renovated in 2006. He was the second biggest landowner in Britain, had been a Liberal MP for over twenty years, was a governor of the Bank of England and for many years was chairman of the giant shipping company P&O. He is celebrated on his monument as ‘a child of God…a good and faithful servant’ who had been welcomed into Heaven.

Rebellious Daughters: Elaine Brown & Anne Knight

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Elaine Brown & Anne Knight
Elaine Brown (1943-) grew up in North Philadelphia with her single mother Dorothy Clark. Despite desperate poverty, Dorothy worked hard to provide Elaine with a good education. Elaine moved to California and worked as a cocktail waitress at a strip club. She soon became involved with the Black Liberation Movement and began working for the radical newspaper Harambee.

Sojourner Truth & Elisabeth Dmitrieff - Rebellious Daughters #1

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We begin a monthly celebration of some of the most dynamic, fighting women from history.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was born a slave in New York and named Isabella Baumfree. She was bought and sold four times and subjected to harsh physical labour and violent punishments. In her teens, she was united with another slave with whom she had five children.

Between 1826-27 Truth ran away with her infant Sophia to a nearby abolitionist family. The family bought her freedom for $20 and helped Truth successfully sue for the return of her five-year-old-son Peter, who was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama. She was the first black woman to sue a white man.

What Lies Behind the Health Service 'Reforms'

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There is enormous opposition to New Labour's "reforms" of the health service. But there is not usually the same level of understanding of what lies behind them.

That is why conservative politicians can sometimes take the lead in local campaigns.

Health provision is important for the mass of people as an essential precondition for enjoying life. But capitalism looks at it in a very different way.

Capitalist ruling classes can only prosper by exploiting people's capacity to work - what Marx called "labour power". That capacity is damaged by illness, accidents and malnutrition. So bosses have to worry about keeping a fit and able body of workers - again, in Marx's terms, "reproducing labour power".

A Day to Remember

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The scale and methods of the Nazi genocide of Jewish people make it a politically unique event that deserves a special day of memorial.

My favourite book of the last year was Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky. The two sections in the book were originally planned as the first of six interconnected stories based around the fall of France in 1940 during the Second World War and its consequences.

Nemirovsky never finished them - a French Jew, she was arrested, deported and died in Auschwitz. The books were only recently discovered and published to great and justified critical acclaim.

The Struggle for Intergalactic Socialism

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The desire to meet "higher lifeforms" is just another expression of enthusiasm for socialism from above - way above.

The space race is back, and Britain is ready to take its rightful place among the stars. Half a century after the government cancelled "Blue Streak", its ludicrously named rocket programme, the British National Space Centre - like NASA with more tea and less money - has announced a series of workshops to re-examine the possibility of putting a Briton in Outer Space. Science minister Malcolm Wicks has described space missions as "the great adventure of the millennium".

Torture Couture

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Post-9/11, there's a trend towards combining torture and pornography.



The blurry, pixelated images of a dead Saddam Hussein on the covers of our newspapers were just the latest evidence of the way the "war on terror" has helped produce and normalise a voyeuristic image culture of death and torture. It is an "aesthetics of terrorism" that has drawn on the darker corners of violence and pornography in US culture, and helped, in turn, to bring those formerly fringe values into the mainstream.

Why Opposing Imperialism Means Supporting Resistance

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Sometimes there are strange coincidences in history. One occurred last month. George Bush made an official visit to Vietnam just as leading figures in his own Republican Party were saying that the Iraq war had indeed turned into the new Vietnam. The US was in danger of a repeat of the ignominious defeat it suffered 31 years ago, and had to find a way of getting out of the morass.

In both cases US imperialism overstretched itself, stirred massive opposition both in the occupied country and throughout the world, and faced the prospect of defeat as a hammer blow to its capacity to get its way globally.

Minding their Language

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The attack on "political correctness" likes to masquerade as a defence of free speech. In reality it is an attempt to maintain elite privileges.

A few months ago I took part in a Question Time debate organised by the BBC at a school in Beckton, east London. That this school was in the top ten of a contest organised by the BBC was itself a remarkable achievement, since it was the only state school in the ten. Beckton is a poor area, whose population has benefited little from the regeneration of the Docklands area, and which stands to benefit little from the nearby Olympics.

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