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Editorial and Opinion Articles: Social Commentary Headlines.

The Humiliation of the Underclass by John Latham

In the 1980s, the American sociologist Charles Murray argued that a distinct class was forming at the bottom of British society. From a New Right perspective, he claimed that welfare dependency had set in amongst the “underclass” and this was encouraging poor behaviour. However, the intellectual tendency to look down on unfortunate people has a long history. Even the revolutionary Karl Marx described the lumpenproletariat in unflattering terms. Nowadays, we have the less cerebral Jeremy Kyle to put us in our place. This glib mockery may entertain some viewers, but is it time to defend the way many of us appear to get by?

The urban studies expert Richard Florida paid tribute to the role of the affluent creative class in post-industrial societies. He reasoned that tolerant values were useful in cities where tech flourished. Hence his liberalism seemed to have an exclusive edge. Nevertheless, the geographers David Wilson and Roger Kiel countered that the authentic creative class...

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SELL, SELL, SELL! by Zack Breslin

There has been increased turmoil and panic in financial markets over the last week. By Tuesday, $4 trillion had been wiped off global stock markets. In America, where the rout began, the Dow Jones experienced its biggest ever points decline on Monday although by Tuesday some of the losses were recovered. Similar shocks were recorded in Asian and European stock markets. In Britain, the FTSE hit a one year low on Monday before falling further on Tuesday (its largest percentage fall since the Brexit vote). Once again, stability in financial markets is being questioned.

The fall in stocks comes after a year of steep rises, buoyed in part by the election of Donald Trump and the implementation of his pro-business policies of deregulation and massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. But Trump can’t claim all the credit—stocks have been rallying for nine years, a result of the low interest rate money that Central Banks have been injecting...

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Capitalism Without Wages? by John Latham

Volunteers throughout the ages have realised that working for nothing is not such a bad idea. It seems perverse, but the “cash nexus” can make labour more tedious than almost anything else. Eccentric Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle noted that the relationship between employer and employee can be difficult. Without a strong union behind them, anybody can be subject to insidious forms of exploitation or discrimination.

If work is done for money rather than love the result can be a profound sense of alienation. The young Karl Marx observed that the power of money means that an ordinary paid labourer has almost no input into the shape of the work process. In less theoretical terms, we may work to live, but only live and breathe at the weekend. We can feel like the mere tools of a boss, aware that we are replaceable by machinery or robots. Worryingly, the ethics of some paid work is highly questionable. It is not only unlucky prostitutes who sell themselves for money...

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Marx and Manifesto: A Beginner's Review by Phillip Sutcliffe-Mott

I didn’t finish The Communist Manifesto when I first read it. Despite its short length, I knew within ten pages that I was too immature. Something stuck with me though. An observation which hardened, some years later, when I started university. It was how in awe with capitalism Marx was. How complementary and excitable his tone. There are pages of passages that marvel at capitalism’s capacity as an all-consuming global force.

This goes some way to explaining how odd a text Manifesto is. The whole thing is delivered by two voices at once, each oppositional to the other. The critic and the fan. This, as we’ll see, is fitting indeed.

To pull sense from Manifesto, you have to read it with at least two other works: Das Kapital and Marx’s Contribution to Hegel’s Critique of Right. For this reason, it is necessary to flounce indeterminately between discussing Marx the scholar and discussing Marx and Engels, Communist co-conspirators...

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