Books

The battle now shapes the future

Author: 

Colin Foster

Peter Frase’s book Four Futures: Life After Capitalism is due to be published on 1 November. He will be explaining its ideas in a speaking tour in Britain from 24 September, and has already written about them on the website of Jacobin, the US socialist magazine he writes for.

He explains, at the end of that preview article, that his argument is dramatically over-simplified. The aim is to jolt us out of the always-common prejudice that society will go on much as it is now, with a nudge this way or that. It won’t.

Peter Frase’s book Four Futures: Life After Capitalism is due to be published on 1 November. He will be explaining its ideas in a speaking tour in Britain from 24 September, and has already written about them on the website of Jacobin, the US socialist magazine he writes for.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Around the world: 

The Left’s Jewish Problem — Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-semitism

Author: 

Dale Street

Dave Rich’s The Left’s Jewish Problem – Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-semitism is not quite what its subtitle suggests it is. But that does not make the book, published a fortnight ago, any the less worth reading.

The focus of the book is not Corbyn. At its core is an attempt to provide an explanation of “how and why antisemitism appears on the left, and an appeal to the left to understand, identify and expel antisemitism from its politics.”

A reviews of The Left’s Jewish Problem — Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-semitism by Dave Rich, Biteback Publishing.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Trotsky’s criteria for a workers’ state

Author: 

Martin Thomas

In a thorough study of Trotsky’s writings about bureaucratism and bureaucracy in Russia from 1917 to 1936, US socialist Thomas Twiss has shown that Trotsky’s conceptions changed as he grappled with the unexpected evolutions of the state.

A review of Thomas M Twiss, Trotsky and the problem of Soviet bureaucracy, Chicago: Haymarket Press, 2015. $36/ £25.99.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Fossil fuels and the rise of capitalism

Author: 

Neil Laker

“The millowners told the workers to bow down to the steam idol or starve”

Fossil Capital explores the crisis posed by climate change by looking at the origins of capital’s dependence on fossil fuels. It is a significant contribution and a sound introduction to Marxist ecological thought. Above all the book demonstrates how capital accumulation and the global climate have a deep and inseparable relationship, and in particular that the history of the working class is an environmental one.

A review of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming by Andreas Malm (Verso, 2016).

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Who profits from your pension fund?

Author: 

Rhodri Evans

Railpen is the pension scheme covering 500,000 current and former railworkers in Britain. According to a new book, What they do with your money, reviewed in the Financial Times on 18 June, it used to believe it was paying £75 million a year to financiers to manage its funds.

Then it probed further, and found that £290 million was being sucked out of the pension fund each year in fees for “fund managers”. Over 30 years, for example, that would be £9 billion, or over 40% of the total value of the fund.

The whole of high finance should be taken into public ownership, and its machine for enriching a few financiers should be replaced by a public, democratically-controlled, banking, insurance, and pension service.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

For a world where diversity is normal

Author: 

Val Graham

Val Graham reviews Autism Equality in the Workplace by Janine Booth.


Janine Booth, poet and author of Autism Equality in the Workplace, is both a worker and trade union activist. A member of the TUC Disabled Workers Committee, her handbook Autism in the Workplace was published online by the TUC in 2014.

A review of Autism Equality in the Workplace by Janine Booth.

Trade Unions: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Stand up for socialism!

Author: 

Editorial

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and their close associates probably never expected to get where they’ve got now, where their words get the weight and attention due to the alternative government.

Many rank and file left-wing activists, too, have been surprised suddenly to find themselves in the centre of large left-wing meetings where ideas are discussed about changing the economy and society wholesale.

We can no more win socialism by individuals being active, each one on her or his own, than a workforce can win better wages and conditions by each worker complaining one by one.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

An inspiring dialogue

Author: 

Jill Mountford

There is now a renewed interest in socialist ideas, an appetite to better understand how the world works and why it works in the interests of such a small minority. There’s a craving among a much bigger layer of people for ideas about what we do about the preposterous injustices of capitalism. These appetites and cravings need to be fed and satiated with ideas and arguments about what socialism is and importantly, what it is not (i.e. the 57 varities of the Stalinism of the twentieth century).

Sean Matgamna’s book, Can socialism make sense? An unfriendly dialogue, is, as he writes in the introduction, “a contribution to the urgent work of rebuilding a mass working class socialist consciousness, and perspective, and a movement that embodies and fights for them”.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Alessandro: The Black Prince of Florence

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

Cath Fletcher's book about Alessandro de' Medici, the bastard son of a Duke and a servant, or possibly slave, of a black African background, is a work of historical detection. The text weighs up the often contradictory, dishonest and sparse accounts of Alessandro's life.

A review of Alessandro: The Black Prince of Florence by Cath Fletcher.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Varoufakis’ plan to change Europe

Author: 

John Cunningham

During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, the Athenians captured the small island of Melia, considered to be friendly to their rival city state.

The Melians, powerless before the might of Athens, pleaded for mercy but to no avail. The Athenians stated that justice belonged to the strong, they would do as they pleased “and the weak suffer what they must” (note that the original quote is a statement, not a question — a subtle but important difference).

A review of And the Weak Suffer What They Must? by Yanis Varoufakis (Bodley Head, 2016).

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Pages