VENEZUELA: FROM INSPIRATION TO DESPOTISM

by Chris Jarvis

CW: torture, rape, political violence

Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.

Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.

In 2017, the legacy of these leftist Governments lies tarnished – and perhaps the most emblematic of this turn is Venezuela.Continue Reading

IS MACRON’S MASK SLIPPING?

By Olivia Hanks

Emmanuel Macron: enlightened, compassionate saviour of Europe, or sneering autocrat in the pocket of big business? France’s new president raised eyebrows across the political spectrum last week when he appeared to divide society into two: “successful people, and people who are nothing”. Macron was addressing entrepreneurs at the launch of Station F, a huge start-up hub based in a former railway station in Paris. Urging his audience to take nothing for granted, he observed that working in a station building would serve as a reminder, because “a station is a place where you mix with successful people, and people who are nothing.”Continue Reading

WRAP UP SAFE KIDS: W.H.O. ANNOUNCES CONCERNS OVER DRUG-RESISTANT GONORRHOEA

By Rob Harding

Content warning – STIs

A quick reminder/PSA to the sex-having and potential-future-sex-having community: use protection, folks. The World Health Organisation released a factsheet last week describing the rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae worldwide, with resistance to third-generation drugs reported in multiple countries including Japan and Norway.Continue Reading

LIBERALISM HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER, LET’S KEEP IT THAT WAY

by Sunetra Senior

A few days after Trump’s Presidential win, an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz – entitled Under President Trump Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon published in The New Yorker – went viral. In it, the Dominican writer called out Trump as a ‘misogynist’ and ‘racial demagogue’, and principally defended multiculturalism stating that in order to recuperate: ‘we need to bear witness to what we have lost: our safety, our sense of belonging, our vision of our country’. He further argued that the best way to do this was to employ a concept called ‘Radical Hope’.

This, according to the creator of the philosophy Jonathan Lear, is a determined sort of hope that tackles mass trauma by being “directed toward a future goodness which transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Here, I would like to highlight the British Labour Party’s recent parliamentary progress as not only encapsulating this, but also expanding Díaz’ original proposed vision. Corbyn and his recently more socially democratic party so successfully delivered Radical Hope that it not only revived the liberal spirit, but the possibility of a truly equitable world.Continue Reading

M.A.D. CAN’T SAVE US NOW.

by Toby Gill

Madness. Or, more precisely, M.A.D.ness. This is the doctrine which has governed foreign policy among major powers for the last half a century: ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ – the idea that the possession of nuclear arms is, in of itself, the ultimate deterrent against aggression from other nuclear armed powers.

It is the reason why the UK is willing to continually bankrupt itself keeping its Trident system running. It is the reason why, in the Cold War, the US and Soviets tolerated one another pouring funding into nuclear missiles, but mutually agreed to ban investment in systems to defend against nuclear missiles, as they were too dangerous. It is the reason why many International Relations experts believe that additional nuclear weapons could actually make the world a safer place. M.A.D. is the key to understanding the ecosystem of superpowers, in the Cold War and beyond.

There is, of course, only one problem – we have no idea whether it really works.

Continue Reading

NOW IS OUR CHANCE FOR A NEW POLITICS – DON’T LET TRIBALISM STRANGLE IT AT BIRTH

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by Olivia Hanks

Outside onlookers would be forgiven for thinking that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had won the general election. From the scale of the jubilation among sections of the left, you wouldn’t imagine we still had a hard-right government, now propped up by the very-very-hard right. For some, the joy is purely that a Labour party which seemed irrevocably divided and defeated has reasserted itself as a credible force. For others, myself included, the reasons for optimism are more nuanced, because our hopes are not for Labour, but for a real, functioning democracy. That’s why we can join Labour supporters in rejoicing that young people came out to vote, that the UK rejected the vicious bile of the tabloid media and the arrogance of a Prime Minister who believed the election was a formality. It’s also why we are sceptical that a tribal Labour party still wedded to first-past-the-post is capable of offering the answers we need.Continue Reading

THE AMAZON

by Gunnar Eigener

The Amazon contains just over half of the world’s remaining rainforest. Home to some 390 billion trees, one in ten living plant and animal species and annually absorbing approximately 1.5 gigaton of carbon dioxide, this rainforest is one of the last few significant land carbon sinks. The effects of climate change were demonstrated when the Amazon briefly lost its ability to absorb carbon dioxide during severe droughts in 2005 and 2010.

The Amazon has long been a poster-child for the environmental movement and its importance has never ceased, although other causes have taken some of the coverage and media interest away. The time has come to refocus on the Amazon before the damage becomes irreparable. The consequences of losing it would be globally catastrophic.Continue Reading