Capitalism: a scorched-earth system

Tackling 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.

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Marxism and the second world war

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 in wartime.

The 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.

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Socialist Party reaffirms support for CWI’s historic ideas

On 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).

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A graphic depiction of Peterloo

Peterloo: witnesses to a massacre

By Polyp, Eva Schlunke and Robert Poole

Published by New Internationalist, 2019, £11.99

Reviewed by Kevin Parslow

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.

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Class and gender war story

Common Cause

By Kate Hunter

Published by Fledgling Press, 2019, £9.99

Reviewed by Heather Rawling

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.

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