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Tag Archives: Thatcherism



By Seumas Milne

“The definitive account of the strike—the best book on the Thatcher era.” – Naomi Klein

“A terrifying, frightening indictment of the British establishment.” – Owen Jones



Margaret Thatcher branded the leaders of the 1984–85 miners’ strike “the enemy within.”

In this classic account, Seumas Milne reveals the astonishing lengths to which her government and its intelligence machine were prepared to go to destroy the power of Britain’s miners union. In this 30th anniversary edition new material brings the story up to date with further revelations about the secret war against organized labour and political dissent, and the devastating price paid for the Thatcher administrations onslaught by communities across Britain.

Read more:

The Enemy Within: The 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike in the Guardian


Seumas Milne is a columnist and Associate Editor on the Guardian and the paper’s former Comment Editor. He was previously the Guardian’s Labour Editor and a staff journalist on the Economist. He is the author of The Enemy Within and co-author of Beyond the Casino Economy.


“The most important exposé of contemporary political Britain I have read.” – John Pilger

“Riveting. It knocks spots off the usual ‘whodunnit.’” – Guardian

“An astonishing book.” – The Nation

“A tribute to detailed journalistic investigation … strips away the myths and lies.” – New Statesman

“One of the most remarkable demolition jobs ever.” – Spectator


Paperback / 472 pages / ISBN: 9781781683422 / MARCH 2014 / £12.99



To learn more about THE ENEMY WITHIN and to purchase a copy please visit


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A message from the Workers Health & Safety Centre: More than twenty years ago, the Canadian Labour Congress declared April 28 a National Day of Mourning for workers who have been killed, suffer disease or injury as a result of work. Every year since, unions, labour councils, families and community partners gather by the thousands to ‘mourn for the dead’. What began through the efforts of Canada’s labour movement is now observed in more than 100 countries.

The Day of Mourning though, is also intended to focus attention on what we can do to break the silence of indifference and say enough to the suffering caused by hazardous working conditions. On April 28 let’s resolve to action that restores and promotes dignity and health in our workplaces and our communities.

For more information, including venues:



Monday April 29 from 6pm to 9pm
Tuesday April 30 from 9am to 5pm
Oakham House – Student Campus Centre
Ryerson University, 55-63 Gould St, Toronto (Room SCC 115)

Join us on Monday April 29 from 6pm to 9pm for a welcome to the conference, guest speakers, poetry performances and reception. Then on Tuesday April 30, join us for the all day learning and strategy forum with guest speakers, roundtable discussions and issue focused strategy sessions. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Roundtables will include:
– Intersectionality of oppression
– Political participation and representation

Issue focused strategy sessions will include the following topics:
– Employment equity
– Income security
– Colours of politics
– Criminal justice and policing
– Immigration policy and the changing face of Canada
– Fiscal policy & economic literacy
– Education – access and opportunities

Everyone welcome !  Free – but hurry – to register click here:



Monday, April 15
6:30pm – 8:30pm
No One Writes to the Colonel
460 College Street, Toronto

“This is a welcome critique of conventional economic wisdom. If you thought tax cuts would solve all of your problems, read The Great Revenue Robbery and think again.”
-Thomas Walkom, political columnist, Toronto Star

Join authors and organizers for the launch of The Great Revenue Robbery: How to Stop the Tax Cut Scam and Save Canada

Edited by Richard Swift for the Canadians for Tax Fairness

Online media sponsor:



Sunday, April 28
4:30pm – 8:00pm
Steelworkers Hall
25 Cecil Street, Toronto, ON

Build a Common Front Against Austerity and War!

Speakers, Live Music, Poetry & Dance, Food & Refreshments

Organized by the United May Day Committee

Free Admission

Doors Open at 4:30 p.m.



By Lorraine Endicott, Editor, Our Times

An artist and poet born in North Burnaby, B.C., Lena Wilson Endicott (or “LWE,” as she often liked to sign her paintings) cared deeply for the world and social justice, and loved Our Times, reading every issue from cover to cover.

Our Times is sponsoring a Canadian poetry contest in her name. Send us your poems about work, working people and social justice. (Maximum five.) They need to not have been published before, and be a maximum of 40 lines each.

We are excited to announce the judges for the contest. They are Marilyn Dumont, poet; Valerie Endicott, family member (and member of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario); and Adriane Paavo, labour educator (Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, and member of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada). The contest coordinator is Maureen Hynes, poet, and Our Times’ poetry editor.

Make sure there is no identifying information on the poetry pages themselves, to ensure impartial judging. Put your name, address, email address and union affiliation, if any, in the body of your email or in your cover letter.

Email your submission to Our Times’ poetry editor at, or mail it to: Our Times, Poetry Editor, Suite 407 15 Gervais Drive, Toronto Ontario M3C 1Y8.

The deadline for submitting is June 30, 2013. The first-prize winner will receive $400 and the first two runners-up will receive $100 each.

The winner and runners-up will have their poems published in Our Times, and will receive two-year subscriptions to the magazine. Winners will be announced in our Fall 2013 issue.



Tuesday, April 16
1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility
Munk School of Global Affairs – 1 Devonshire Place
University of Toronto

Higher education is under attack. Internationalization, politics, and worldwide economic trends are forcing universities and colleges to ask themselves tough questions. Criticisms are commonplace in the media, while new communications technologies threaten traditional institutions. So what lies ahead?

Let’s talk about it.

Join Worldviews 2013 for a special pre-conference debating the interplay between higher education, media, and society. This free event will feature a short keynote presentation, panel debate, and reception.

We will explore the increasing emphasis being placed around the world on:
– Shifting the cost of education to students
– Getting students in and out of higher education in shorter time periods
– The increasing focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics related subjects, and criticism of the liberal arts
– The exclusive focus on higher education as a means for job training
– Expanding online learning as either a complement or alternative to on-campus learning

Why are these ideas being proposed by so many and whose interests do they serve? Is this pragmatic agenda a “war on knowledge” or a “war” on specific types of knowledge and specific types of education? Some media coverage has asked constructive questions, but much of the discussion has been superficial. So where do we go from here?

Registration is required (and free!), so save the date and register here!



Saturday May 11
8 pm
Trinity St. Paul Church, 427 Bloor Street West
Tickets: $15 PWYC (see below)

Co-sponsored by Toronto Musicians Association

Please join Mayworks Festival at Class Act, a tribute concert in honour of Arlene Mantle’s (1932-2012) lifelong contribution to the labour movement and tireless fight for social justice.

Featured performers include writer, teacher and Canada’s first Lady of Dub, Lillian Allen; multi-award winning, singer/songwriter, self-taught musician, and prisoner rights activist Faith Nolan; Toronto-based composer and singer, former front man of The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir and The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, David Wall; Juno nominated songwriter, producer and musician Dinah Thorpe; singer/song writer and community activist Amai Kuda; and Chilean band, Grupo Taller (meaning ‘workshop group’); and singer, songwriter, mother and activist Lynn Mantle,who learned her chops singing back up behind mom, Arlene Mantle.

These stellar performers will be backed up by the Kevin Barrett Group, making its mark on the Toronto music scene for more than a decade, led by musical director, producer and teacher Kevin Barrett. This evening of song and celebration will be hosted by long-time social justice activist and community organizer, Angela Robertson.

How to purchase your tickets:
Seats to the concert are limited. Mayworks encourages everyone to purchase advanced tickets to guarantee a seat.

Tickets may be purchased via the Mayworks Paypal account online:  (please indicate “Class Act Concert” when you make your donation). If you are unable to make an online donation but would still like to purchase advanced tickets, please send an email to with the subject line “Class Act Concert”.

Want more information?
Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts is a multi-disciplinary arts festival that celebrates working class culture. For more information on other events at the 2013 Festival, please visit



By Jason Kunin, The Bullet

Teachers in Ontario may not know it, but their actions in this coming week will have huge ramifications for unionized workers across Ontario and across the country. We stand poised either to hold the line against the austerity agenda and mounting attacks on workers, or pave the way for escalating attacks on the labour movement.

After a year that has seen the provincial Liberal government strip education workers of their collective bargaining rights and legislate strips to our wages and benefits that took decades of struggle to win, public secondary teachers in Ontario will be voting this week on whether to accept a peace deal that offers some minor improvements over the “contract” imposed four months ago by Bill 115 but which leaves most of the major strips intact.

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By Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

After four austerity budgets and lots of hide and seek, there are finally some answers about what services federal departments are going to cut. CCPA’s Senior Economist David Macdonald has examined over 180 departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities in order to estimate employment cuts down to the program level and determine where federal spending cuts hit the hardest.

He finds that cuts have disproportionately focused on service delivery, and that the total number of federal public service jobs cut over the entire austerity period (March 2012 to March 2016) will be 28,700—with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada experiencing the largest loss of positions. By 2016, the total number of people working for the federal government will have fallen by 8%, almost double the 4.8% figure reported in Budget 2012.

Read the full analysis, The Fog Finally Clears: The job and services impact of federal austerity:



By Sheila Cohen, Labor Notes

“Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out, out, out!” was the slogan chanted at so many demonstrations.

Londoners will be gathering again in Trafalgar Square this Saturday to celebrate the death of “Maggie Thatcher, Milk Snatcher.” Now that she’s well and truly “out,” how do we define what she left behind?

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By Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes

On the 879th day of their strike, Mexican tire workers sought help in Germany, where the multinational that wanted to close their plant was based. After a determined 1,141-day campaign, the company sold them the plant, which they now run as a cooperative.

The hurdles to buying a plant, even a failing plant, are huge, and once in business, the new worker-owners face all the pressures that helped the company go bankrupt in the first place. Most worker-owned co-ops are small, such as a taxi collective in Madison or a bakery in San Francisco.

But in Mexico a giant-sized worker cooperative has been building tires since 2005. The factory competes on the world market, employs 1,050 co-owners, and pays the best wages and pensions of any Mexican tire plant.

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By Chris Ramsaroop and Syed Hussan,

Once again the temporary foreign worker program has erupted in controversy where it is being used to pit workers against each other.

News reports point out that the Royal Bank of Canada has decided to move its information technology department abroad. To do so, it has brought in temporary workers from India that will learn the ropes from their Canadian counterparts. Following this training, the Canadian workers will be laid off, and the Indian workers will transition the IT department to India and return there.

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COPE Local 343’s fuel handlers at Porter FBO have been on strike since January 10, 2013 for a first contract. They organized for safer working conditions and a living wage. Porter has not budged on its position of a 25-cent increase for half the workers and nothing for the remainder.

What many of you may not know is that OMERS, the pension plan for Ontario school board and municipal workers, is the single largest outside investor in Porter, which pays its fuel handlers on average $13 an hour.

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Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education. For more information about this project, visit

For more information about CSEW, visit:




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‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:


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A one-day symposium at the University of Brighton
Friday 20th January 2012

Correspondence to:

It is now well established that Adam Smith’s purloining by the Neo-liberal Thatcherites in the 1980s represented a partial and superficial interpretation of his work, based on a particular reading of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This initiative, forming the intellectual basis for a concerted political and intellectual attack on social democracy and welfare politics, used Smith as the foundation for a return to free-market economic thinking and the construction of a neo-liberal hegemony over the terms of economic growth and development that privileged low labour costs and high investment opportunities for capital.

Despite a recognition of the inherent dangers of this economic policy – short term speculative gain against longer term economic stability; vulnerability to the ebbs and flows of finance capital and global economic trends; the impoverishment of working people and conflictual approach to their representation in parties, unions and protest movements; the construction of a market instrumentalist culture that sees moral and social worth primarily in economic utility – it remains a dominant discourse. From Margaret Thatcher’s free-market/strong state approach to political economy to Gordon Brown’s ‘Smithian sympathy’ in economic policy, Smith is part of an intellectual parlance that sustains a consensus within mainstream politics that binds mainstream debate into a notion of the market economy that is minimally and residually social; and in particular, that is conditional on the performance of the market rather than on moral principles and democratic political goals for state, economy and society.

Adam Smith’s work is so much richer, however, than this partial articulation suggests, and Smith remains a potent source for discussion and debate, particularly on the Left. This symposium seeks to explore what the Left might learn and take from Smith in articulating new forms of critical political economy and of moral and political criticism and resistance.

The day will comprise of four sessions led by academics developing recent and current work on Adam Smith and what the Left can learn from him:
David Cassasas Marques (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain)
Mark Thomas (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Anita Rupprecht (University of Brighton, UK)
Paul Reynolds (Edge Hill University, UK)

This symposium is organised on behalf of CAPPE
( by Paul Reynolds, Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy, Edge Hill University with Professor Bob Brecher, Director of CAPPE.

The cost of the symposium is £25 (and £10 Unwaged/students) which includes lunch. Cheques should be made out to Paul Reynolds (Adam Smith Symposium) and posted to17 Lea Crescent, Ormskirk,Lancashire L39 1PG.

All correspondence should be directed to Paul Reynolds at

Paul Reynolds
Reader in Sociology and Social Philosophy
Programme Leader in Sociology
Social Sciences
Edge Hill University
St Helens Road
Lancs L39 4QP
Tel: 01695 584370


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David Cameron


Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Time: 19:00 – 21:00
Location: Housmans Bookshop
Street: 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross
Town/City: London, United Kingdom

Richard Seymour, blogger of ‘Lenin’s Tomb’ fame, and author of ‘The Liberal Defence of Murder’ will be in store discussing his latest publication, ‘The Meaning of David Cameron’.

The Tories are posing as a ‘progressive’ and ‘radical’ alternative to New Labour. Drawing from George W Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’, they maintain that the ‘Big Society’ can do what ‘Big Government’ cannot – produce a cohesive, mutually supportive, happy society. Cameron’s court intellectual, Philip Blond, maintains that this if David Cameron’, which is a viable alternative to the failures of the egalitarian left and the excessively pro-market right. But is this more than campaign mood music? And are the conservative traditions that they draw on – from the bucolic, pseudo-medievalism of G K Chesterton to the anti-statism of Friedrich Hayek – really a bulwark of progress and radicalism?

Richard Seymour argues that such ideas can only seem ‘progressive’ in light of New Labour’s acquiescence to Thatcherism. To understand the Cameronites, it is necessary to understand how the social landscape and corresponding political language was transformed by the collapse of post-war social democracy and its more radical competitors. To resist the Cameronites, he argues, it is necessary to attack the neoliberal consensus on which all major parties found their programme.

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The Future of Capitalism 


The Financial Times today has a special magazine on The Future of Capitalism. Leading economic analysts, journalists and academics discuss this question in light of the current crisis of capitalism.


Contributors include:

Lionel Barber, Gary Becker, Larry Fink, Chrystia Freeland, Alan Greenspan, Francesco Guerrera, Paul Kennedy, Nigel Lawson, Kishore Mahbubani, Kevin Murphy, Edmund Phelps, Amartya Sen, Robert Shiller, Sir Martin Sorrell, Joseph Stiglitz, and Martin Wolf.


The Financial Times also has a web site on ‘The Future of Capitalism’, at:



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Why Third Way Politics Refuses To Die





Why Third Way Politics Refuses To Die

By Louis Proyect


COME ON, GOOD PEOPLE, COME ON! We know, this is the time of the year when you receive letters galore from the ACLU, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and countless other organizations and charities that want to reach into your wallet. They do have a big marketing budget, don’t they? — and they all tell you they want to change the world, or at least alleviate its suffering. We have no marketing budget and we are not promising to change the world — not that we aren’t trying…but one has to be realistic. What we bring you is different voices, some darn serious, others quite humorous or poetic. We bring you book reviews. We bring you analysis. We bring you an extraordinarily diverse pool of authors from many countries. We bring you famous and not so famous authors. We bring you alternatives. We bring you originality and quality twice a month, rain or shine. Again, where else can you find what we bring, and all commercial free? So open your checkbook and write that darn check. It won’t save the auto industry but it will save Swans, and it will make a huge difference both emotionally and practically for our work ahead. Thank you and our very best wishes for the coming year.
Donate Now!


(Swans – December 15, 2008): In 1997 Tony Blair became Prime Minister of Great Britain ending eighteen years of Tory rule. For left-leaning Britons, the 1979-1990 rule of Margaret Thatcher and her successor John Major easily rivaled George W. Bush’s as an odious symbol of class injustice. When she was not embarking on foreign imperial adventures in the Malvinas, Thatcher was attacking the working class at home. Her most notable victory was in defeating the coal miner’s strike of 1984, an achievement that was as effective as Reagan’s assault on the airline controllers in preparing the way for a neoliberal economic regime.



When Blair was elected, the sense of relief evoked this “Wizard of Oz” ditty sung by the Munchkins:


Ding Dong! The Witch is dead.
Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below.

Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know The Wicked Witch is dead!


However, British voters did not get exactly what they voted for.
As soon as the euphoria wore off, it became clear that Tony Blair was no friend of working people, as Thomas Friedman observed in an April 22, 2005, New York Times Op-Ed:


The other very real thing Mr. Blair has done is to get the Labor Party in Britain to firmly embrace the free market and globalization – sometimes kicking and screaming. He has reconfigured Labor politics around a set of policies designed to get the most out of globalization and privatization for British workers, while cushioning the harshest side effects, rather than trying to hold onto bankrupt Socialist ideas or wallowing in the knee-jerk antiglobalism of the reactionary left.


Blair demonstrated that he was no slouch when it came to sending British troops abroad, joining the U.S. in imperial aggressions against the Serbs and the Iraqis. Indeed, one would be hard put to really tell the difference between the Tories and New Labour other than the rhetoric.


Although the eight years of George W. Bush was a lot shorter in duration than Tory rule in Great Britain, it did manage to do as much violence to working people at home and abroad. Bush was notoriously lazy but he did have a kind of zeal for punishing those not fortunate enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouth.


With the election of Barack Obama in November, the same pattern seems to be unfolding as it did with Tony Blair’s prime ministry. Both Blair and his American counterpart Bill Clinton sought to govern through the “Third Way,” a philosophy that permeates Obama’s “Audacity of Hope.” For those who have been surprised by Obama’s apparent determination to serve in the capacity of Bill Clinton’s third term, the evidence for such a proclivity was there all along for those with the patience to read through his gaseous prose. Obama wrote:



“In his platform — if not always in his day-to-day politics — Clinton’s Third Way went beyond splitting the difference. It tapped into the pragmatic, nonideological attitude of the majority of Americans.

“Just as Blair was determined to continue the free-market policies of Margaret Thatcher, so was Obama ready to apply the same kind of lash to the backs of American workers first applied by Ronald Reagan, her American counterpart that Reagan’s message “spoke to the failure of liberal government,” which had become “too cavalier about spending taxpayer money…” He added that, “A lot of liberal rhetoric did seem to value rights and entitlements over duties and responsibilities…. Reagan offered Americans a sense of common purpose that liberals seemed no longer able to muster.


Labour and liberal disappointment with Tony Blair and Barack Obama respectively tends to sidestep the all-important question of why these politicians try to mediate between their own party and the organized Right. In contrast, John McCain fought hard for Republican Party core beliefs. Triangulating between conservative and liberal positions originates on the left rather than the right apparently and when the conservatives keep shifting to the right, the end result of triangulation is a center further to the right than in the past.


Rather than seeing “Third Way” politics as a kind of conscious policy choice, I would suggest that it is better understood in structural terms as the defense mechanism of Empires in decline perhaps not even understood fully by the politicians who carry them out. In broad historical perspectives, the rise of centrism in two of the most powerful imperialist nations in history is stoked by their decline as economic powers.


At a time when the British Empire was relatively powerful, the Labour Party pushed relatively hard for the class interests of the rank-and-file voter. It was no accident that socialized medicine arrived when British steel, shipbuilding, coal-mining, and auto manufacturing were vibrant, profit-generating industries.


When British industry lost its competitive edge, not coincidentally around the same time that its former colonial subjects were winning their freedom, the capitalists understood that the old rules did not apply. The worker’s slice of the pie shrank steadily, all in the name of “modernization” and “efficiency.


The same ineluctable processes that gave rise to the “Third Way” in Great Britain have matured in the United States, thus giving birth to the candidacies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama alike. In one of the greatest con jobs in history, Obama was elected because voters decided that “change” meant something different from both George W. Bush and the Clinton administration that preceded it.


The liberal pundits who helped to get Obama elected still hold out hope that he will push through a new New Deal and thus return the U.S. to some kind of golden era of prosperity. For many of them, the proof of Obama’s FDR type credentials is his announced intention to push through a 700 billion dollar public works project. Once again demonstrating the indifference to history that characterizes the world of Huffington Post, Nation Magazine, et al., there has been no attempt to analyze whether FDR’s public works program did much good in breaking the back of the Great Depression.


It turns out that it was World War Two that had such a salutary effect, according to a letter written by the late Harry Magdoff in reply to a Monthly Review contributor who betrayed Keynesian illusions in a submission.
Magdoff wrote:


[D]espite a promise of heavy government spending, and Keynes’s theoretical support, the New Dealers were stumped by the 1937-38 recession, which interrupted what looked like a strong recovery. There was then as there is now an underlying faith that capitalism is a self-generating mechanism. If it slowed down or got into trouble, all that was needed was a jolt to get back on track. In those days, when farm life supplied useful metaphors, the needed boost was referred to as priming the pump. The onset of a marked recession after years of pump-priming startled Washington. Questions began to be raised about the possibility of stagnation in a mature capitalism, the retarding effect of monopolistic corporations, and other possible drags on business. These concerns faded as war orders flowed in from Europe, and eventually they disappeared when the United States went to war. The notion of the “Keynesian Welfare State” has tended to disguise the fact that what really turned the tide was not social welfare, Keynesian or otherwise, but war. In that sense, the whole concept of Keynesianism can be mystification.


War, of course, is not a feasible option today for the U.S. or any other imperialist power given the likelihood of mutually assured destruction. That being the case, how likely is it that public works programs will accomplish today what it did not in the 1930s? The answer is not very likely at all. The irony of American politics today is that the weapons it created to help win the last world war serve to inhibit it from launching new wars against powerful rivals. Without resort to war — what Randolph Bourne called “the health of the state” — the U.S. is destined to lurch from one economic crisis to another with politicians on the right and the nominal left competing with each other to turn back the clock to a glorious past that never really existed.



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