PAUL ROBESON was without doubt one of the most extraordinary men of the 20th century. A black American born at the beginning of the last century, Robeson was an uncompromising fighter against war and oppression. His death in 1976 went virtually unnoticed. But over the past few years new generations of activists have been inspired by his life.
IMPERIALIST WARS like the one that has just been launched against Afghanistan always put the left to the test. It's always possible to find some excuse for supporting imperialist rulers.
DELEGATES TO the Labour Party conference on Tuesday gave Tony Blair a standing ovation. He is going to use this as an excuse to wage war on Afghanistan. But Blair only got such support because people believed, wrongly, that he is a restraining influence on George W Bush and the US military.
IT IS too early to tell how much really has changed as a result of the atrocities of 11 September. One thing is clear, however. Defenders of the status quo are going to use the "war on terrorism" in order to justify all sorts of measures that they want to achieve anyway.
WHEN I was a child you could order a magic Cornish charm from the Captain Marvel magazine. It promised that if you held onto it and said something would happen often enough then it would happen.
IT'S AMAZING that Francis Fukuyama still dares to show his face in public. Far from experiencing the end of history after the fall of Stalinism, we are now confronted with the third major imperialist war since 1989. There are major similarities between each of these conflicts, but also significant differences.
FROM THE channel that brought us the sensationalist fly on the wall documentaries Jamaican ER and Lagos Airport we now have How Racist is Britain? The four-part series has been screened in the run-up to Black History Month in October.
"SINCE I was 12 all I have known is fighting and more fighting. So once again innocent people will be killed and nobody will care about it."
Faiz, a 33 year old market trader in Kabul, Afghanistan
THE MORE the initial shock caused by the attacks on New York and Washington wears off, the more cracks appear in the international coalition that George Bush's administration is trying to construct.
DIDN'T YOU feel sorry for Stella Rimington, that selfless public servant, who has been ostracised by the British establishment for telling us about her struggle to preserve freedom and democracy against the forces of darkness? The Guardian last week tried to hook us on its serialisation of Rimington's MI5 memoirs of how she "tracked, trailed, bugged and burgled some of the most ruthless spies, drug-runners, subversives and terrorists of her generation". Rimington was the first woman to head MI5 and the first security service chief to be named in public.
THE SPEECHES by union leaders at and around the TUC this week were among the angriest and most confrontational ever under a Labour government. It was not an industrial issue like wages or a single piece of legislation like a proposed anti-union law which was in the spotlight. It was the whole relationship between trade unions and New Labour.
SURPRISE AND, at least initially, euphoria greeted the agreement on Zimbabwe's future that was struck last week in Abuja, Nigeria. President Robert Mugabe's government quite unexpectedly agreed that it would stop illegal seizures of white-owned land.
THE DEVASTATING attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US have seen politicians and press unite to denounce those responsible as "evil terrorists" with no regard for "the sanctity of human life".
HUNDREDS OF Albanian football supporters travelling to watch their team play England in a World Cup qualifier were banned from entering the UK last week. Were these football hooligans intent on causing trouble? No.
"THE WORST is yet to come." They were the words of a City economist as British manufacturing industry was officially declared to be in recession. Figures released this week showed the biggest fall in manufacturing output for a decade.
I DO sometimes wonder whether someone as successful as Tony Blair can really be as stupid as he often seems. The Financial Times carried an astonishing article last week that plainly came straight from the great man himself:
"FOR THE past ten to 15 years we've been asleep. I hope we are once again awakening." These are the words of Gillo Pontecorvo, who at the age of 82 was one of the oldest protesters in Genoa.
Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee spent 1,200 words last week attacking the Socialist Alliance. That she had to do so is a sign of the resonance the Socialist Alliance is getting among thousands of people. Toynbee is a staunch defender of New Labour, although she sometimes criticises aspects of its policies.
The other day I heard George Robertson, secretary general of NATO and British defence secretary during the 1999 Balkan War, say, "We didn't wage war over Kosovo in order to replace ethnic cleansing by Serbs with ethic cleansing by Albanians."
Foot and mouth disease has dominated the press and TV for the last week. The disease is highly infectious, and action is needed. But it is not like BSE, mad cow disease, which passed to humans with devastating consequences. There is little risk to humans from foot and mouth disease. No one is likely to die or even get ill.