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The Week So Far

1. Africa

A former Rwandan army chief has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for his role in the country's 1994 genocide. Augustin Bizimungu was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The general is one of the most senior figures yet to be tried by the tribunal.

2. Middle East

At least 15 people were killed during demonstrations on Israel's borders on 15 May. Israeli troops shot at protesters after they reportedly breached the fenced ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called for calm but remained defiant. "We are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty," he said.

3. North America

Donald Trump dropped out of the race for the Republican candidacy in the 2012 US presidential election. The businessman and reality TV show host declared that he was "not ready to leave the private sector". His explanation has led to claims that the run was a publicity stunt.

4. Asia

The Burmese government has started to release or reduce the sentences of approximately 15,000 prisoners as part of an amnesty announced on 16 May. Critics dismiss the move as a gimmick, pointing out that few of the country's estimated 2,200 political prisoners are among those being released.

5. Latin America

Twenty-seven farmworkers were killed in a massacre on a ranch in Guatemala on 15 May. According to one survivor, the men were killed by a Mexican drug cartel called the Zetas after refusing to reveal the location of the farm's owner, Otto Salguero, who is believed to have links with the drug industry.

6. Space

The penultimate flight of Nasa's 30-year-old space shuttle programme was launched on 16 May. The mission is led by Mark Kelly, whose wife, the federal congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot by a gunman in Arizona in January. The final space shuttle mission will be flown in July.

7. Education

Dons at the University of Oxford are expected to pass a vote of no confidence in the universities minister, David Willetts, when the congregation, "the dons' parliament", meets in June.

8. Business

Inflation in the UK rose during April from 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent. The Bank of England blamed the rise of increased travel prices over the Easter period as families took advantage of the extra bank holidays to go abroad.

9. People

The former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has confessed to fathering a love child with a member of his household staff ten years ago. The news emerged a week after he announced that he was splitting from his wife, Maria Shriver.

10. Nature

Between 20 and 50 tigers have been discovered living in the Thap Lan National Park in Thailand. The find has allayed conservationists' fears that the animal is close to extinction.

This article first appeared in the 23 May 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Obama 2.0

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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times