Reviews

Hipster reformism and the technological fix

Bruce Robinson reviews Aaron Bastani's 'Fully Automated Luxury Communism'

Back in 2013-14 there was a lot of excitement on the left about “left accelerationism” and the prospect of a transition to a “post-capitalism” fuelled by technological advances based on information.

Land and the oligarchy

Author

John Cunningham

The appearance of two books on landownership in Britain, within the space of a year or
so, is yet another “flagging up” of the growing importance of the “land question” and a “wake-
up call” for the Left.

We have to take the question of the land on which we live – who owns it, how it is exploited,
how the overwhelming majority of us are excluded from it – much more seriously than we
have in the past.

Israelophobia is Stalinist regression

Author

Barry Finger

Barry Finger reviews Paul Kelemen’s book The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012)

This volume, which joins the herd of independent minds in churning the same old depleted groupthink, purports to challenge the claim that changes over the decades in the left’s appraisal of Zionism and the Palestinian cause stem from antisemitism.

HBO’s Chernobyl: a service to us all

Author

Les Hearn

Chernobyl was a disaster — there is no doubt about that — but what lessons should we learn from it?

Though the catastrophic meltdown and explosion of the RBMK Reactor No 4 happened almost half a lifetime ago, when police states claiming to serve the workers ruled eastern Europe, the recent HBO mini-series Chernobyl has brought that time back to life.

Though partly fictionalised and sometimes wrong (according to survivors and experts), the basic facts are correct.

A new humanist politics?

Author

Matt Kinsella

Paul Mason’s latest book, Clear Bright Future, is written as a defence of humanism and human-centred politics, against the resurgent threat of the far-right, from Trump to Bolsonaro, Le Pen to Salvini. The title is a reference to Leon Trotsky’s testament. Mason entreats us to fight “all evil, oppression, and violence”, and shares Trotsky’s optimism for the future.

A British counter-revolution

Author

Cathy Nugent

The current BBC2 documentary series Thatcher: A Very British Revolution is worth watching for the film footage — interviews with Thatcher, old news reports of events, and other rarer clips. Beyond that, it won’t tell you much more than Wikipedia does.

Most of the talking heads are Tory ex-MPs and civil servants who served under Thatcher. Also Bernard Ingham, Thatcher’s press secretary, who proves that reactionary pomposity does not fade with age.

Depths of denial

Author

Simon Nelson

Keith Kahn Harris’s book sets out to be a short analysis on what drives a lot of conspiracy theories: denial.

People deny climate change, the effectiveness of vaccines, or the Holocaust. Kahn Harris explains succinctly where some of these conspiracies are driven from — helplessness in a world that leads the less informed to believing the conspiracy of someone with an alternative agenda. But the book is short in length and short on answers.

The Glorious Heresies

Author

Matt Kinsella

Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies is a strong debut novel, which won her the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2016.

McInerney was already known for her blog, Arse End of Ireland, in which McInerney spoke about the impacts of the financial crash on Ireland’s poorest. The novel continues similar themes, focusing on those forced into the fringes of society in Cork.

Caring for the NHS

Author

Simon Nelson

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

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