'Economics for the Many' offer a radical, democratic vision for a Corbyn gov’t

Edited by John McDonnell
Verso, 2018

This book is a valuable collection of 16 short essays on the crisis facing modern Britain, coming up with progressive solutions which a Jeremy Corbyn-led government could usher in.

It is edited by and has an introduction by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a long-time socialist and close collaborator of Corbyn’s. He says: “We are seeking nothing less than to build a society that is radically fairer, more democratic and more sustainable, in which the wealth of society is shared by all.”

The first piece, by Antonia Jennings who teaches at the London School of Economics, starts by talking about democratising economics in a post-truth world. She advocates educating the public, who have been misled into accepting the Tory government’s line on austerity, that it is unavoidable and necessary.

A true people’s artist

Rock & Roll Harbour
Exhibition by The Shop Gallery
112 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Thurs January 3 – Wed Jan 9

Peter Gow is the people’s artist.

His ouvre is driven by his down-to-earth, inner-city environment such as boathouses and the heritage-listed Sydney Harbour Bridge in various attitudes, all of which feature prominently in this exhibition.

Gow is a qualified electrician and builder as well, very handy for making the frames in his spare time that embrace his art.

His deep, rich, contrasting colours leap from his palette onto the canvas. His short brush strokes create a palindrome that both refract and reflect our own lives through a prism of vibrant tinctures.

Art is language: it should tell the truth and the whole truth about our past and present including our ignorance, arrogance and negligence of our precious environment.

Vivienne Westwood: Punk to the bone

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
Directed by Lorna Tucker
In cinemas

In the 1970s, punks astounded Britain with their T-shirts worn inside out and torn clothes with safety pins.

Vivienne Westwood was the person responsible for most of that look. Not only did she tear clothing apart, she lived a similar life.

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist is a raw, unpredictable and unapologetic documentary about the punk icon and fashion designer. 

Watching it was a whirlwind. At times I was smiling, others I felt frustration.

I found it trying at times how little information the film actually shared. It was more like experiencing a scattered journaling than a documentary of a life.

It is all over the place and the narrative jumped around a bit so it was hard to get a chronological understanding of her life and the history of her label.  At the end, you are left asking: “What just happened?”

Eye-opening look at the dark side of the ‘aid industry’

Disaster Capitalism
Written by Antony Loewenstein 
Directed by Thor Neureiter
www.disastercapitalismfilm.com

Disaster Capitalism is a groundbreaking documentary film about Bougainville, Haiti and Afghanistan, revealing the dark underbelly of the global aid and investment industry. The film offers important insights into a secret multi-billion dollar world by investigating how aid money is actually spent — or misspent.

Prominent journalist and author Antony Loewenstein joins award-winning filmmaker Thor Neureiter on a four-year journey through the world of shady mining companies, corrupt and failing governments and resilient local communities.

US condemned for tear-gassing refugees, children

Legal experts and human rights advocates have denounced the tear gassing of children and other asylum seekers by US forces at the Mexico border on November 25.

“The migrants at our southern border include mothers and small children exercising their legal, human right to seek asylum,” declared the ACLU in a tweet on November 26. It told the US Customs and Border Protection agency: “Tear gassing children is outrageous and inhumane.”

Socialist representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the Trump administration for its treatment of refugees. She issued a reminder that vulnerable people fleeing violence and persecution have the right, codified by domestic and international law, to apply for asylum protection.

Israel escalating the demolition of Palestine

When it comes to the infrastructure of genocide, you could illustrate it using almost any photo of a school, house, shop or village in the West Bank. You could bookmark a Google maps page of a particular West Bank town — then look again in three or six months time and note the destruction wrought.

This is one way of keeping track of the demolitions of Palestinian homes and Israel’s attempts to impose an “Israeli only” identity on the landscape.

There has been a redoubling of Israeli efforts to evict Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and deny remaining Palestinian residents the right to a livelihood by demolishing Palestinian shops and businesses.

New maps of land destruction show why people flee Central America

A new map developed at the University of Cincinnati illustrates one motivating force behind migrant caravans leaving Guatemala and Honduras to reach the United States.

UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski has turned high-resolution satellite images from the European Space Agency into one of the most detailed looks so far at how people are reshaping the planet.

Stepinski said: “Right now there are caravans of people walking to the United States. Many of them are coming from Guatemala.”

News agencies such as The Guardian have called some of the Central American migrants “climate-change refugees” since many are fleeing successive years of crop failure. Stepinski says climate change tells only part of the story. His map shows how Guatemala has seen widespread deforestation. 

“They’ve lost the forest because people use wood for fuel,” he said. “It’s one part of the refugee crisis.”

Wave of red as West Bengal farmers march for rights

Organised under the banners of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), thousands of farmers began marching from Singur towards Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, on November 27.

The march culminated in front of Governor Raj Bhavan’s house the next day to demand cultivable lands be returned to the farmers.

In 2006, the creation of a car plant in Singur made the lands uncultivable. The plant was later displaced to another state after a huge protest by farmers and civil society.

In this context, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from the Trinamool Congress party promised the return of cultivable land to the farmers. So far, this has not happened.

Letter from the US: Midterms offer distorted picture of political state of play

Looking at elections in the United States, deeper trends in the population can be difficult to discern as the choices are between two capitalist parties that are both staunch defenders of capitalist rule and US imperialism.

There are no mass workers’ parties of any stripe. If there were, we may be in a better position to understand the relation of class forces.

This is not to say there are no differences between the two parties. There clearly are. At present, President Donald Trump has the backing of Republican politicians, with a few exceptions. Democratic politicians are generally opposed to Trump’s authoritarian drive, however ineffectually.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that there are competing factions in both parties, more in the open among the Democrats. For the Republicans, they are muffled by the need to go along with Trump’s significant base or face the crumbling of their party.

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