Books

Yesterday’s Guillaume Conqueror, today’s migrants?

Author: 

Daniel Randall

The Wake is an extraordinary literary undertaking, rooting its narrative in early medieval England by writing in what its author, Paul Kingsnorth, calls a “shadow tongue”: a pastiche of Old English based on its grammar and syntax but comprehensible to modern English speakers.

A review of The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound, paperback 2015)

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

The life and politics of Red Rosa

Author: 

Gemma Short

“I have no special place in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

In her graphic biography of Rosa Luxemburg, Kate Evans skillfully portrays not only the woman of great intellect and fighting spirit, but one of great emotion. Heavily drawing on Luxemburg’s letters as source material, Evans gives us insight into the personal thoughts and struggles that lay behind Rosa Luxemburg′s theories, books and speeches.

A review of Red Rosa by Kate Evans.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

The other gougers

Author: 

Barry Finger

I enjoyed Ira Berkovic’s review (Solidarity 390, 20 January 2016), but he may have short changed the big shortcoming of The Big Short.

The Michael Lewis source material gives too much hero status to the subjects of this movie (and book) who created a far wider crisis by creating yet another, and hitherto nonexisting, market to short the worst of the subprime securities.

The Big Short gives too much hero status to the subjects of this movie (and book) who created a far wider crisis by creating yet another, and hitherto nonexisting, market to short the worst of the subprime securities.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

This book is really about now

Author: 

Ed Strauss
The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism is not just a scholarly work about distant, long-ago arguments — it traces the development of patterns of thought and behaviour that shape how our movement thinks and works today.

Ed Strauss reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism

The book is an amazing textbook. As a young student in the 1950s, I was reading some of the documents which are in the collection, I was coming in at the tail-end of some of these debates; but we had nothing like this.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Orthodox Trotskyism reshaped Trotsky's ideas

Author: 

Ed Maltby
Ed Maltby discusses Paul Le Blanc's review of "The Two Trotskyisms".

Paul Le Blanc’s review of The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: Fate of the Russian Revolution volume 2 (Solidarity 388) is a thoughtful and detailed piece.

Le Blanc defends The Two Trotskyisms against some on the left who deride the book as pointless obsessing over long-ago spats. He is right to do it: such complaints remind one of Homer Simpson, who, warned that he’s late for English class, sneers “Pff! English, who needs that? I’m never going to England!”

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Ellen Meiskins Wood (1942-2016): a Marxist who put class centre

Author: 

Andrew Coates

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, was a noted intellectual figure on the international left who influenced several generations of thinkers and activists.

Born in New York as Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived as political refugees, Wood studied in California before establishing herself as an academic in Canada, based at York University in Toronto.

Her writings were thought-provoking and luminous.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, influenced several generations of left academics and activists. She was a Marxist who combined creative and original thinking with a powerful defence of the centrality of class and class struggle to socialist politics.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Culture and Reviews: 

An anti-Stalinist Gramsci

Author: 

Martin Thomas

The first, and longest, essay in this book is a warm appreciation of the interaction between Gramsci and Trotsky.

The Prison Notebooks contains some sharp and, as even the mild-mannered Rosengarten puts it, "unfair" attacks on Trotsky's ideas. Yet, as Rosengarten documents, Gramsci had learned a lot from Trotsky in 1922-3. He was sympathetic to the 1923 Left Opposition. He opposed Stalinist "Third Period" policy in much the same way that Trotsky did, and "did not give any credence to the Stalinist slander of Trotsky". In jail he made efforts to get some of Trotsky's writings.

A review of The Revolutionary Marxism of Antonio Gramsci by Frank Rosengarten.

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Equality makes us live longer

Author: 

Les Hearn

Someone (possibly Stalin) once said “When one man dies, it’s a tragedy. When a million die, it’s a statistic.” But, to Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a million deaths is not just a statistic.

A million people have died prematurely in just the last five years in Britain, according to the renowned epidemiologist Michael Marmot, author of The Health Gap, who has spent a lifetime trying to counteract such cynicism. For him, the deaths of millions worldwide from same cause, inequality, are millions of tragedies which could and should be prevented.

A review of The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Issues and Campaigns: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

The mass psychology of Islamo-fascism

Author: 

Eric Lee

This is a regular guest column by Eric Lee of LabourStart.

There can be little doubt that the murderous ideology of Islamic State is a form of fascism. In discussing how the left should react to it, it is therefore necessary to return to our sources, to learn how earlier generations of socialists understood — and fought — fascism.

Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) was one of Freud’s outstanding disciples, but in the 1920s he moved increasingly to the left, eventually joining the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). There he engaged in theoretical work in an attempt to bridge the gap between Marxism and Freudianism.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Portraying capitalist injustice

Author: 

Sandra Robinson

The touring theatre company, Townsend Productions, are now on the road with their excellent play, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, based on Robert Tressell’s novel, first published in 1914.

The play is the latest in a string of politically committed and successful plays, including ‘United We Stand’ (the story of the Shrewsbury pickets), ‘We Will Be Free!’ (the Tolpuddle Martyrs story) and ‘On the Road to Freedom’ (a choir and theatre community project).

The touring theatre company, Townsend Productions, are now on the road with their excellent play, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, based on Robert Tressell’s novel, first published in 1914.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Pages