By Steve Wallace
The financial events of 2008–2009 inaugurated not only an economic but a new ideological crisis of capitalism. How deep this crisis will become depends on the development of the economic situation and the intervention of the political left. The character of this crisis, however, can be seen most clearly by placing it in an historical context.
First published: 22 May 2006
One of the most frequent intellectual tricks of apologists for imperialism is to attempt to confine the study of the human and political rights record of the imperialist countries to the situation only within their own borders. By their nature, many of the greatest crimes of imperialism were carried outside the borders of the individual imperialist states themselves – the extermination of the every original inhabitant of the Caribbean following the Spanish conquest, the transportation of 12 million people in the slave trade and the deaths of many millions in it, the death of at least 20 million people in famines in British-ruled India while grain continued to be exported by the British authorities, a million deaths in the Great Famine in Ireland after 1846 while food imports were kept out by British imposed tariffs, the death of every single original inhabitant of Tasmania, systematically genocidal policies against native Americans in various US states, the killing by the US of 3 million people in Vietnam, the killing of up to 100,000 people by US and British forces in Iraq, etc.
First published: 18 May 2006
One of the most frequent intellectual sleights of hand carried out by apologists for imperialism is the reduction of ‘human rights' to ‘political rights’. That is, when they claim to be speaking about ‘human rights’ they in fact eliminate most human rights and reduce these to a much narrower range of political rights – most imperialist apologists are also in practice totally selective in which countries they chose to discuss political rights in, but that is another aspect.Consider the difference between these two issues. Human beings are real living entities. They eat, drink, get ill, raise children, are sexually active, want entertainment, have interests and hobbies. Their needs range from the absolutely vital for survival, for example food and health care, through those issues rated by almost all societies as extraordinarily desirable, such as finding friends and having partners for sexual activity, through knowledge and skills vital for participation in wider human culture and access to higher paid employment, such as the ability to read and write and education, to the desirable but less than truly essential – having a black iPod as opposed to a white one. The real ability to undertake all these, both separately and according to priorities determined by the individual, constitutes the sum of their real human rights.
First published: February 2003 The coming attack on Iraq is the latest in a series of wars waged by the US government – including the first Gulf War in 1991, the attack on Yugoslavia and the bombing of Afghanistan. But many more people than before have understood the real motives for the war and are therefore opposing it.This is a vital change. Not only would an attack on Iraq kill thousands of Iraqi people but, if successful, it will be far from being the last, or even the biggest, aggressive war envisaged by the US. In his ‘axis of evil’ speech, George W. Bush has already named North Korea and Iran as potential future targets. The Pentagon ‘nuclear posture review’ document in 2002 named a hit list of countries against which Washington is prepared to use nuclear weapons, including Iran, North Korea, Libya and China. At the end of February, responding to a question from the anti-war MP Alice Mahon, Tony Blair declared that after Iraq, North Korea was next.
First published: May 1989Europe is today undergoing its greatest changes since World War II. This is obvious in Eastern Europe which has seen the greatest political shifts since 1945. In Western Europe structural shifts on a less dramatic scale, but still the greatest since World War II, have marked the two last decades. How are these developments linked, and what are their driving forces?The first issue to be clarified in examining European trends, and the development of European politics, is the relation between the uniqueness of each state and the overall situation. There are no two countries in Europe in which the organisation of capital, the structure of the state, or the relations in the labour movement are duplicated or in which political tactics can be the same. Nevertheless this does not prevent there being a clear general European development. If we are to understand the individual process in each country in Europe we must first examine the international reality in which it develops. The aim of this article is to consider these broad trends of European development in their full scope. Within that framework the specific situation in each country can then be situated.
First published: July 1996 Some years ago the Financial Times ran an exceptionally instructive back page interview with Jean Marie Le Pen, the leader of the extreme right wing French National Front. It was instructive, not because of what it told the reader about Le Pen, but for what it reflected about the thinking of the Financial Times.The article was entitled ‘Militant bourgeois’. The tone of the interview was precisely expressed by its title. It sought to foster toleration among the FT’s readers of Le Pen as a ‘militant’ representative of a ‘bourgeois’ political force – without, of course, endorsing his more obscurantist, racist and anti-semitic views. The approach was to create the kind of attitude to Le Pen among FT readers, that might have been found among militant car workers in the 1970s to a ‘communist’ shop steward – ‘we don’t agree with a lot of their ideas, but they are useful to have on our side in a fight with the class enemy.’
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