September 30, 2014
Nicholas Gilby, author of Deception in High Places, discusses the latest protests which have broken out in Hong Kong and the role that the UK arms trade is playing in supporting its repression.
On Sunday, serious unrest broke out in Hong Kong and large-scale protests still continue. A student-driven movement drew tens of thousands on to the streets of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, calling for a truly free election for the Chief Executive of the territory in 2017. The police used considerable amounts of tear gas on the peaceful protesters, in an attempt to disperse them. Sadly, it appears that some of the tear gas used in the attempt to crush the pro-democracy protests may have been licensed for export by the UK Government, the former colonial power.
When, after 99 years of British rule, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 it was agreed that “the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years”. In practice this means the people of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) enjoy much greater civil liberties than those in Communist-run China, including, for example, unhindered internet access and freedom of speech. Further, the rule of law of prevails, and corruption is not nearly as widespread as in mainland China.
The Chinese Government had previously promised that universal suffrage would be used in the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017 and in the election of all legislators in 2020. But, in August, the Chinese Government decided that all candidates in the election for Chief Executive had to be approved by Beijing. In other words, Hong Kong’s citizens will not have a free choice to elect who they want. Read the rest of this entry »
September 29, 2014
It’s finally the autumn, many of us are going ‘back to uni’, and Pluto is offering a lip-smackingly delicious 40% off all our books, via our website. And that’s 40% off the usual web price too, not the somewhat mythical ‘rrp’! All you need to do is go to bit.ly/plutob2u and the site will be configured to discount everything.
Check out the banner below for all the above information in a brightly coloured format! Happy shopping.
August 26, 2014
In an exclusive piece for Pluto, Laurence Cox and Alf Nilsen discuss the relevance and central message of their new book – We Make Our Own History.
April 2014: In Dongguan in the Pearl River delta, tens of thousands of Chinese workers walk out of factories owned by a Taiwanese company that produces shoes for global brand leaders like Nike and Reebok in protest over the corrupt handling of their pensions. Following in the wake of the strikes at a Honda-owned factory in Foshan – also in the Pearl River delta – in 2010, the April walkouts in Dongguan are expressive of a new wave of labour militancy in China, which increasingly targets the transnational corporations that have been so central to the export-driven growth strategy of the Chinese authorities, and which have been successful in winning wage gains for the country’s working classes.
May 2014: In Spain’s elections for the European Parliament, a new political party – Podemos – wins 5 seats and 7.9 per cent of the vote (approximately 1.2 million votes). The unexpected levels of support for the party are seen as a continued expression of the widespread anger against unemployment and austerity policies that was initially voiced by the Indignados. “We want to build a political majority”, argued the party leader Pablo Iglesias as he described the politics of Podemos, ”that reflects the social majority of Spain.” In aspiring to do this, Podemos is developing and deepening the project of mass-based, participatory democracy that started to take shape in public squares around the country during the 15-M protests of 2011 and 2012.
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August 18, 2014
In this specially commissioned article for the Pluto Press blog, author John Strawson puts the Gaza conflict in a broader, regional context. His book, Partitioning Palestine: Legal Fundamentalism in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Pluto, 2010) is available to buy from the Pluto website, here.
John Strawson, 18/08/14
The Middle East is facing its most serious crisis since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. The Gaza war has to be seen not only another grizzly episode in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but as part of broader regional civil war. This is quite definitely not a war between Shi’a and Sunni as many commentators lazily suggest. It is rather the latest act in a struggle between nationalism and Islamism. The creation of the so-called Caliphate by the Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq is the clearest expression of this process. However in 2013 we saw mass demonstration in Egypt, which brought down the Islamist government of President Morsi. The same struggles are evident in Tunisia, Libya and most tragically in Syria. The Hamas-Israel confrontation in Gaza is in many ways a proxy war between Hamas and Fatah. It is in the contours of the new Middle East that we need track the route to preventing another Gaza war.
In May this year Hamas agreed to form a unity government with Fatah in attempt to overcome the split between the West Bank and Gaza initiated by Hamas in 2007. In many ways Hamas was forced by weakness into agreeing to the creation of government in which it would not have any ministers and which was committed to negotiations with Israel. This was seen by some Hamas members as a capitulation to President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. However the Hamas political leadership was in a difficult position; it had lost its international allies, it was nearly bankrupt and it was loosing popular support in Gaza. The unity government offered the possibility that civil servants might get paid and Hamas might be able to gain some influence over Fatah policy. Its military wing, the Izzadin Al Qassam Brigades remained quite separate from the agreement. Read the rest of this entry »