Monday, May 17, 2021
Historically the Middle East has been the centre of conflict between different imperial powers with its strategic and economic importance in terms of trade routes and oil. For over thirty years the US has been embroiled in “endless wars” there. Now it is attempting to use proxies in the area so that it can withdraw much of its military presence to concentrate on new priorities. The situation, however, is highly complex with other resurgent regional and world powers asserting themselves in a shifting pattern of alliances. Russia, Turkey, Israel, the Gulf States and Iran are major players. The peoples of the Middle East are continuing to suffer and there is a real threat of major conflict between big powers, whether by accident or design. There is, therefore, a duty on the movement in the west to mobilise unconditionally against war wherever it is instigated and whatever the supposed justification. Also to support the Palestinians in their fight against Israeli oppression.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Joe Biden’s political appointments and domestic policies are the backdrop to the United States strategy to maintain its world dominance. These policies are being forged by veteran Washington insiders - key figures who were also prominent in the Obama era. Domestically policies are aimed at stabilising the US economy post-pandemic and preventing social dislocation and potential further unrest. This includes a big stimulus package for the economy and progressive measures on trade union rights and policing in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. But the Republicans will block much of this and the left will need to push Biden and Harris to fight for these policies. Though Biden’s rhetoric is different from Trump’s, he has appointed foreign policy hawks to his cabinet and will continue with the policies of Obama and Trump aimed at confronting the rise of China and Russia on the world stage. To be able to focus on that more effectively, however, the US is seeking to get out of major military commitments in the Middle East, which have proved a quagmire and instead to use proxies as a more effective way of achieving its ends.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Capitalism and greed, as Boris Johnson is proud to say, go together. However, they are not the success he likes to pretend. In fact markets have failed abysmally to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It is actually the public sector and state intervention that has had the greatest success in combating the virus. Capitalist greed benefits no one but the capitalists. The rich world - the EU and countries like Britain and the United States - are battling it out to secure shares of vaccines while poorer countries are being left far behind. The EU has struggled with it's procurement programme which is a further blow to those who wish to centralise power even more within the bloc.
Friday, May 14, 2021
Amazon employees endure oppressive working conditions but there are now struggles taking place to improve these and to gain union recognition across the globe. These are hard fought battles as the company uses any dirty tricks: lying to staff, spying on union organisers and sacking activists, to fight their own workers.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
British Gas engineers put themselves on the line during the pandemic, helping households maintain their power supplies through the winter. But Centrica which owns British Gas, has sought to use fire and rehire tactics to force engineers to accept worse conditions of employment. Centrica pleads poverty but is actually making healthy profits.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The Scottish National Party has again been returned to power in the Scottish Parliament, though failing to achieve an overall majority. Yet its record in government has been one of failure in delivering services to the people of Scotland. The Party itself, once highly disciplined, is now fraught with divisions. But independence is what dominates Scottish politics and it suits the SNP to divert attention onto the constitution and way from the many issues facing the Scottish people and the party's own problems. But there are divisions in the independence camp about how to proceed and the many difficult questions about borders, currency, debt and so on will not be easy for the SNP to answer.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is launching a constitutional Commission advised by Gordon Brown. it will consider further devolution of powers across the UK. On the left the idea Progressive Federalism has been developed which would seek to devolve power and enshrine socialist values in its structures. Partly these moves are a reaction to the success of nationalism in Scotland. But are these schemes practical? Would the ruling class sit back and allow the radical elements of Progressive Federalism to be put into practice? And, when previous devolved powers have failed to halt nationalism, why would these options be any more successful?
Monday, May 10, 2021
Agriculture is in crisis with the land becoming less productive and agribusiness marketing increasingly intensive chemical interventions to farmers. Farmers are also forced to sell at low prices to supermarket monopolies. Experiments have begun in rewilding the land, challenging the power of big business. But can this be a practical way forward for the future?