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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.

Celebrating the Everyday as Radical Rap Goes Global

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When politicians want to confirm how magnificently out of touch they are with the real world, they'll make a comment about current music, probably hip-hop.

Some have complained that rappers are to blame for making teenagers violent, although surely if violence could be caused by music about violence, Tchaikovsky must have caused mayhem with his 1812 Overture. Nineteenth century Europe must have been awash with drive-by cannonings, and soldiers snarling "Prussian mothafuckah".

Even worse are those who try to embrace hip-hop, such as David Cameron, who you expect soon will tell us: "My shadow cabinet crew is well sick and ready to mash up Labour. You get me?"

Identikit Hot

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How the media uses technology to create unrealistic images of women


"Our interest is in the appearance of sexiness, not the existence of sexual pleasure, passion isn't the point... Hotness has become our cultural currency, and a lot of people spend a lot of time and a lot of regular, green currency trying to acquire it. Hotness is not the same thing as beauty... Hot can mean popular. Hot can mean talked about. But when it pertains to women, hot means two things in particular: fuckable and saleable."

Blaming the Victims

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What does a politician do when a war they started goes badly wrong? Pick a fight with those who have opposed it, of course.

George Bush tells us he's disappointed with progress in Iraq. How does he think the rest of us feel? The occupiers have now admitted they cannot control Baghdad or Basra. No wonder generals, former warmongers and even the politicians are now discussing withdrawal from Iraq. This is about much more than the US midterm elections, where Bush looks like he'll get a pasting. It is about a complete failure of strategy in the region, and the sudden realisation that things can only get worse.

The Lies that aren't Meant to Deceive Us

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What should we make of ruling class stories that are so outrageous that no one could really fall for them?

On 9 June 2006 seven civilians were blown up on a Gaza beach. The footage of the sole survivor, 10 year old Huda Ghalia, screaming amid the ruins of her family was so unbearable that Israel even muttered some apology. But only for a moment. Almost immediately, defence minister Amir Peretz announced a "propaganda offensive" to prove that Israeli shells were not to blame.

Urban Inspiration

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"The rich may have to live in gated communities while the poor roam the world outside those few enclaves," said Branko Milanovic from the Development Research Group at the World Bank in 2002. Taking a visit to any major city in Britain will show you this process in action.

This process is particularly acute in East London as the City bonuses continue to soar, and the Olympic juggernaut comes closer. While little social housing is built, everyday it seems that a new luxury gated development goes up alongside the council estates and run down markets and shopping streets. With names like "Tequila Wharf", "Zenith e14" or "2N1" and facilities such as private cinemas, all encased while building work goes on, in bright hoardings, where young professionals smile down on us, flushed with success.

Friends of the Poor or of Neo-Liberalism?

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The rise of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the past 30 years has been dazzling.

NGOs are typically private, not-for-profit, bodies that carry out humanitarian work or provide basic social services, often working in the Global South. There are an estimated 37,000 international NGOs with global reach, one fifth of them formed in the 1990s. The number of smaller NGOs operating within a single country is far larger - there are an estimated one to two million in India alone.

Recipes for Disaster

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To blame unhealthy children on women is ignoring what the market has done to childcare and people‘s lives in the last two decades.

Talk about not having it all. Women are expected to work longer, but then get the blame when anything goes wrong with their kids.

According to the Economist, "The increase in female employment in the rich world has been the main driving force of growth in the past couple of decades. Those women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the new giants, China and India."

When the Gringos Go Down South

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These days the visitor crossing from the Mexican city of Tijuana to San Diego in California is immediately slapped in the face by a huge billboard screaming, "Stop the Border Invasion!" Sponsored by the rabidly anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen, the same truculent slogan reportedly insults the public at other border crossings in Arizona and Texas.

The Minutemen, once caricatured in the press as gun-toting clowns, are now haughty celebrities of grassroots conservatism, dominating morning hate radio programmes as well as the even more hysterical ether of the right wing blogosphere. In heartland as well as border states, Republican candidates vie desperately for their endorsement.

With the electorate alienated by the dual catastrophes of Baghdad and New Orleans, the Brown Peril has suddenly become the issue through which the Republicans hope to retain control of Congress in next month's elections.

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