ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Challenging Economic Inequality

Economic and social inequality is a major problem, implicated in poverty, ill health and exploitation. Inequality has increased in many countries since the 1980s and it is also widely seen as unfair, yet action against it has been sporadic and often ineffective. To better understand why inequality has persisted, it is useful to look at tactics that reduce public outrage over it. These include covering up the existence and impacts of inequality, denigrating those who are less well-off, explaining the existence of inequality as natural, necessary or beneficial, using official channels to justify inequality, threatening those who challenge it and rewarding those who defend it. Each of these tactics can be countered, resulting in a set of options for those pursuing a fairer world.

Non-violence versus US Imperialism

Challenges to US imperialism based on armed struggle have been largely unsuccessful. A much more promising strategy is non-violent popular action, which has only begun to be taken seriously for its potential long-term effectiveness. Six case studies - the Vietnam war, nuclear weapons, East Timor, Iraq, Puerto Rico and the so-called Arab Spring - illustrate the potential of popular unarmed resistance to facets of the US imperial system. This approach warrants further development.

Climate Crisis? The Politics of Emergency Framing

Groups opposing climate change have been springing up in many countries, constituting a climate change movement. Several writers and movement leaders argue that climate change is an emergency that requires urgent action by governments to bring the problem under control. However, framing climate change as an emergency has several potential disadvantages. It may implicitly prioritise climate change over other important social issues. It can orient the movement towards government-led solutions rather than build popular support for long-term efforts. Finally, emergency framing may be counterproductive: it can disempower citizens because the problem seems too big, whereas providing practical opportunities for action is a better long-term approach.

Iraq Attack Backfire

Attacks of all sorts can backfire, especially when they are perceived as unjust. But as well as being a potential outcome of an attack, backfire can be studied as a process. Attackers often seek to prevent backfire, whereas opponents of the attack seek to magnify it. Backfire is an ongoing struggle, a sort of game. The key is to understand the rules of the game. Using historical examples to outline the basic process of backfire, this essay examines the Iraq case and the five principal ways in which the attackers tried to inhibit backfire.
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