Books

Change the world without taking power?

Can we change the world without taking power? Without organising ongoing, structured, political movements (parties)? John Holloway, in a much-read book (Change the World Without Taking Power, Pluto 2002) says we can.

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Review: How Solidarity Can Change the World

How many Trots does it take to change a lightbulb?
I don’t know.
You can’t change the lightbulb, comrade, you’ve got to smash it!
Oh yes, very funny.
It’s true, you know. Let’s face it, this system stinks. Millions of children dying in the Third World. The Government selling arms to Indonesia to massacre students. And even here we’ve been sold down the river by Blair.

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Review: Cet Etrange Monsieur Blondel by Christophe Bourseiller

Is Marc Blondel, leader of France’s third-biggest union federation, Force Ouvriere, a secret member of the “Lambertist” sect of neo-Trotskyism? Was prime minister Lionel Jospin also a secret member, at a time when by all public evidence he was a moderate Socialist Party figure and Keynesian-leaning professor of economics? This book is interesting not so much for its answers — Bourseiller finds both cases too close to call — as for the explanation it gives of how the questions even come to be asked.

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Review: 'The Road to Terror' and 'Russia’s Stillborn Democracy? From Gorbachev to Yeltsin'

Marx noted in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that the bourgeois crisis of mid-nineteenth-century France was resolved in the cry: “Rather an end with terror than terror without end.” Stalinism was an end with terror, as a new book of light commentary and heavy reproduction of documents confirms.

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Feeding the German Eagle

Author: 

Matt Heaney

The bulk of this volume is an examination of the economic talks between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR in 1939-41, while Stalin remained “neutral” and Hitler was at war with the West. They ended with the German attack on the Soviet Union, on 22 June 1941. As Ericson puts it, “Nazi Germany turned to bite the hand that had fed it for the past twenty-two months.”

A review of Feeding the German Eagle by Edward E. Ericson.

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Is Cuba Socialist?

Author: 

Paul Hampton

This book is a pseudo-debate between Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and CWI (formerly Militant) in Britain and Doug Lorimer of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party (DSP).

It is also, I guess, an attempt to check the recent rash of Castro-worship in the Scottish Socialist Party, with whom Taaffe maintains a strained relationship.

A review of Cuba: Socialism and Democracy by Peter Taaffe

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Review: Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

In 1610, Galileo Galilei, as Bertolt Brecht put it, “abolished Heaven” — by proving the Earth was not the centre of the universe and that the Church’s entire theory of the cosmos, based on Aristotle and Ptolemy, was false. By pointing his telescope at the moons of Jupiter, he proved the celestial spheres were not immutable. Some Church astronomers refused to look. Eventually he was accused of heresy.

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Review: Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

Toni Negri was the most celebrated intellectual of Italy’s “ultra-left” in the 1970s. He was jailed in 1979 for “armed insurrection against the powers of the State”; won freedom in 1983 by getting elected to Parliament; fled to France in 1983; and has been back in jail, in Italy, since 1997.

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A tale of class struggle

Dan Katz read Q by Luther Blissett alongside Frederick Engels’ The Peasant Wars in Germany

Thomas Munzer: “The masters are to blame that the poor man becomes their enemy.”

It’s time to take down that copy of Engels’ Peasant Wars that you always intended to read, but never got round to. And here’s a nice way to do it – reading Engels alongside the novel, Q.

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