Reviews

The early life of Paul Frölich

The German revolution, 1919 Paul Frölich deserves to be better known. He is chiefly credited for his valuable 1928 biography of Rosa Luxemburg. However Frölich was a significant figure on the German revolutionary left in his own right. A recent book, Paul Frölich, In the Radical Camp: A Political Autobiography 1890-1921, edited and introduced by Reiner Tosstorff, provides a window into his life. The book deserves the attention of contemporary socialists. Paul Frölich was born in Leipzig on 7 August 1884. Both his parents were active in the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), which...

A new history of humanity

Clive Bradley reviews The Dawn of Everything: a new history of humanity, by David Graeber and David Wengrow (Allen and Lane). Potentially, this book changes everything. It is certainly what the authors intend. For Marxists, it poses some profound challenges. Broadly speaking, Marxists have accepted what these authors call the ‘evolutionary’ perspective on human history, namely that there are certain stages through which human culture has passed: pre-agricultural societies, which have no classes; agriculture, which gives birth to classes (because it facilitates the accumulation of a surplus...

"Geoengineering", carbon drawdown - readings

.ytcontainer { position: relative; width: 100%; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.25%; } .ytvideo { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } What should we, as socialist environmentalists, say about proposals for "geoengineering" (or "climate intervention"). The most common proposals are for a variety of methods for carbon sequestration ("drawdown", or "negative emissions"), to remove CO2 from the carbon cycle and air; and "solar radiation management", seeking to reflect more of the sun's rays back into space, such as by spraying vast quantities of sulphur into the high...

Confronting antisemitism on the left

The double meaning apparent in the title of Daniel Randall’s new book Confronting Antisemitism on the Left expresses its two important aims: to confront antisemitism which appears on the left while at the same time confronting antisemitism firmly from a left perspective. Grabbing the baton from Steve Cohen’s important 1984 analysis of left-wing antisemitism, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic, and running much further, Randall’s book is not only sharp in its arguments about the nature of antisemitic forms of leftist discourse, but it’s also very well grounded in the history of the...

A balance sheet of "Corbynism"

Just over a year after Jeremy Corbyn was elected, in September 2016, the new Labour Leader addressed the Burston Strike Rally in Norfolk.

Unlocking land profits, locking out tenants

A review of Estate Regeneration and its Discontents: public housing, place and inequality in London, by Paul Watt. This is a most important book, and a powerful indictment of the Tory and Blairite housing agenda. The objective of council housing was to give everyone a decent place to live, as a right, at a rent they could afford, and with security of tenure irrespective of income. In that it was largely successful. To the Tories and Labour’s hard right housing is a commodity, nothing more, to be used for the maximisation of profit irrespective of the consequences. Regeneration is part of this...

Another sort of anti-fascism

The 43 Group has long held a strange place in Jewish and anti-fascist memory. On the one hand, the story of a group of Jews who violently beat the fascists off the streets of post-war Britain has an obvious romantic appeal. On the other hand, there has been remarkably little serious history written about what was, at its peak, a very well-organised fighting organisation of anti-fascists with a regular newspaper, democratic structures, a substantial headquarters and hundreds of active members. Before the publication of Daniel Sonabend’s new book We Fight Fascists, the last on the organisation...

Maxwell: a charlatan capitalist

The subtitle of John Preston’s new biography, Fall, is "The Mystery of Robert Maxwell". Mysteries certainly abound in this story — and not just about the fraudster’s death. The biggest mystery of all is how it was that this extraordinary charlatan was allowed to continue with his business activity right up to the time of his death in November 1991, despite having been declared by a Department of Trade and Industry investigation in 1971 to be “not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company”. This gripping book is so entertaining that...

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