A rising sense of panic is gripping the strategists of British capitalism as the 31 October Brexit deadline draws ever closer. “Britain’s exit from the European Union without a withdrawal deal would be an unequivocal national calamity”, the Guardian newspaper editorialised (16 August). The usually more soberly-toned Financial Times has also used similar phrases.
Comparisons have been made with Winston Churchill’s decision in 1925 to return to the gold standard at pre-world war exchange rates, an effective 10% appreciation of sterling. This move was famously excoriated by John Maynard Keynes in his pamphlet, The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill, as a self-inflicted wound on the UK economy – although, as with the no deal, ‘soft Brexit’ or no Brexit debate today, there were no policies within the framework of capitalism that could have resolved the fundamental contradictions of a crisis-inherent system. Meanwhile, a leaked paper from inside Angela Merkel’s German government, reporting that the EU’s preparations for a no deal are “largely complete” in so far as they can be, assesses that Brexit with no withdrawal treaty is now a “high probability”.
US-China trade tensions, Germany’s slide into recession, EU crisis and regional conflicts all bear witness to increasing rivalry between the major powers and trading blocs. They also mean that an understanding of the imperialist stage of capitalism is more relevant than ever. ROBIN CLAPP writes.
When Jeremy Corbyn wrote the foreword to
a 2011 edition of John A Hobson’s classic work, Imperialism: A Study, a Guardian
reviewer called it a “perfectly decent introductory essay”. Yet in May of this year, Corbyn’s endorsement of this 1902 book
was weaponised by a Times
journalist, who claimed that Hobson was anti-Semitic and, by extension, the
Labour leader must be so too.
global warming is, to state the obvious, a global problem. The environment and
climate are everywhere. It is also inextricably linked to the global political economy:
the way the world is run.
A consequence of greenhouse
gas emissions, human-induced global warming is, by definition, a systemic
crisis, a crisis of capitalism. Even the measurements for the amount of carbon
in the atmosphere are comparisons with pre-industrial levels – the dawn of the 18th
century industrial revolution and mass production driven by fossil fuels.
Report after report has
detailed the interconnectedness of the environment and human activity, and the
need for far-reaching action on this existential threat. Summit after summit
claims success. In reality, however, the progress has been glacial.
Eighty years ago, the major powers plunged
humanity into the horror of world war. Despite the contending claims this was,
at root, a struggle for markets, and economic and political dominance. In a
shortened version of an article first published in Socialism Today No.131, PETER
TAAFFE looks at the background to the war and the responsibility of socialists
total number of victims of the second world war dwarfed even the carnage of the
first. Estimates of the number of casualties suggest some 60 million died, 20
million soldiers and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died of disease,
starvation, massacres, bombing and deliberate genocide. The now-disappeared ‘Soviet Union’ lost around 27 million, just under half of
all the casualties in the war.
At a time of a
growing school funding crisis the recent victory at Southampton’s Valentine
Primary, which won a two-year freeze on budget cuts through an injection of
£1.6 million by Southampton council, is an important example of what can be
Sunday 21 July over 200 delegates at a special conference of the Socialist
Party in England and Wales voted overwhelmingly, 83.2% to 16.8%, (173-35), to
sponsor an international conference to reconstitute the Committee for a Workers’
International (CWI – the international organisation of which the Socialist
Party is part).
When peaceful protesters were slain in St Peter’s Fields,
Manchester, on 16 August 1819, the first media reports were articles in The
Times and then the radical Manchester Observer, which gave the massacre its
name, ‘Peter-loo’ – to echo the battle of Waterloo. Major Dyneley of the 15th
Hussars Regiment dubbed it the ‘battle of Manchester’. Later accounts were
accompanied by illustrations, notably those of cartoonist George Cruikshank. He
illustrated The Political House that Jack Built, by satirist William Hone, and
depicted the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry’s brutal assault on the crowd.
The systemic discrimination women face is clearly
exposed in the justice system, with record levels of women prisoners,
reactionary, sexist judges, and victim blaming – the subject of a recent book,
reviewed by SARAH SACHS-ELDRIDGE.
Eve Was Shamed: how British justice is failing women
Set during the first world war, Common Cause continues
the story of Iza, a skilled compositor in Edinburgh (see Women in the Workplace
1910, a review of The Caseroom, in Socialism Today 218, May 2018). Kate Hunter has
placed the story around real events and trade union struggles with her in-depth
knowledge of the print industry. As with her first novel, there are graphic
descriptions of working-class life – the poverty, overcrowding and disease, as
well as the feeling of community and common cause. The characters are sketchy
as the author prioritises recounting the events.