Opinion

Rag trade is fraying at the edges

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The pandemic has driven the fashion industry into in a deep crisis, leading to an in-depth questioning not only of the incredible waste involved, but its actual role in society

While the effects of the global pandemic become apparent, restrictions on daily living have caused an existential crisis for the fashion industry.

“This is the largest crisis that the modern industry has ever faced,” declared Imran Amed, founding editor of BusinessofFashion.com.

“We’re going to see a wave of insolvencies and bankruptcies as the year continues.” With shops and factories shuttered, the BBC reported that from generating an annual £2.02 trillion in global revenues, the industry saw sales plummet by 34 percent in March.

Interview - Global economy on the edge

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Socialist Review spoke to Marxist economist Michael Roberts about mounting debt, the long recession, and the future prospects for capitalism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

Companies and states have taken on a massive amount of debt. What are the implications of this?

Even before the pandemic global levels debt levels were at post-war highs. This was not just public sector debt built up after bailing out the banks and other sectors during the great recession of 2008-09.

It included a huge build up of corporate debt as companies in the advanced economies borrowed at very low interest rates made possible by central banks.

Rebellious Daughters: Mother Jones & Bhikaiji Rustom Cama

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In the second of our monthly series we celebrate the lives of union organiser Mother Jones and India independence leader Bhikaiji Rustom Cama

Mary "Mother" Jones (1837-1933) was born Mary Harris in 1837 in County Cork, Ireland. Her father Robert fled to Canada after taking part in a revolt against the landowners.

Mary became a schoolteacher but was barred from most schools because she was a Catholic. She later moved to Chicago and worked as a dressmaker.

She met George Jones, an iron worker and union organiser, in 1861 and they married and had four children. Sadly George and the four children died in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in Autumn 1867.

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.

Afghanistan the hidden defeat

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US imperialism has suffered a massive historic defeat with the planned withdrawal of troops. This is being presented as some sort of success. The hard truth is very different.

The most powerful country in the world has failed to defeat the Taliban after years of bloody warfare. Not only is this America’s longest war, but taking into account inflation, it is the third most expensive war in US history.

A conservative estimate is that the war has cost well over $900 billion and other estimates double that figure. And there is the toll of 2,300 US dead and over 20,000 wounded.

Coronavirus and capitalist crisis

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Pandemic is triggering what may be the deepest economic crisis of our lifetimes.

As its most essential level, capitalism, as Marx pointed out, is based on a circuit. Capitalists use their capital to assemble raw materials, machinery and labour-power in workplaces, and through exploiting labour-power, generate goods and services.

They sell these goods and services to other capitalists or to workers, hopefully for a profit, expanding their capital. Then they buy more raw materials and machinery, and hire more labour-power, to begin the process anew.

If at any point, and for whatever reason, this circuit breaks down, a crisis will erupt.

A year for resistance

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Sexual violence always been used by state forces to intimidate and humiliate those fighting back, but the international women’s movement is fighting back strongly.

In a world in which far right authoritarian governments are on the rise from Brazil to India, the use of violence in general and sexual violence in particular are weapons of choice. It is not surprising that this was a central focus of many of the International Women’s day protests which took place this year across the global south from Chile to Pakistan.

Off the Shelf: The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World

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Readers recommend an old or forgotten text that is worth revisiting. This month Phil Webster praises a hefty work of Marxist history.

It is almost 40 years since this excellent piece of Marxist history was first published. It is a wonderful example of how the Marxist method can be applied to a detailed study of a period of history: in this case ancient Greece and Rome.

In the first half of the book, Ste Croix explains the class structure in the ancient world of Greece and Rome, showing that class is the key concept for understanding it (and the medieval world), as well as modern capitalism.

Support your local Trans Pride

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Trans Pride Liverpool 2019

Trans Pride marches have grown as a response to the commercialisation of Pride and the marginalisation of trans people. Kelly Stubbs argues that every socialist and trade unionist should back the marches.

The current leadership contest within the Labour Party has recently been focused on issues of how to relate to the transgender community.

The sharp end of this has been centred on the way that a minority of those who see themselves as on the left oppose transgender rights, by falsely counterposing trans rights to cis-women’s rights.

This is a false opposition and the candidates who are arguing for support of all women’s rights — both trans and cis, must have our support.

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