Reviews

“They steal the roses from our cheeks”

Submitted by AWL on 20 March, 2019 - 10:11 Author: Jill Mountford
chainmakers

A ten-week strike involving recently unionised women home-workers is the subject of Neil Gore’s latest production.

“‘Rouse, Ye Women” is a folk-ballad opera telling the stirring story of the Chainmakers’ Strike of 1910 through uplifting songs sung by Bryony Purdue as Mary MacArthur, and Rowan Godal as “Bird”, a downtrodden chainmaker.

With only a guitar and banjolele, a simple but evocative set, and an imaginative use of lighting, the audience are quickly transported to a backyard outhouse in Cradley Heath.

Telling the truth about wars

Submitted by AWL on 20 March, 2019 - 9:17 Author: Simon Nelson

The career of the journalist Marie Colvin was fairly unique. She covered most of the major conflicts of the 1990s and 2000s up until her death in Homs, Syria, in 2012.

Her articles in the Sunday Times brought across some of the horrors of war, not just the conflicts between political factions and leaders but the stories of mass graves in Fallujah, and the near starvation of internally displaced Tamils. Until her death she may be remembered as one of the last journalists to interview Colonel Gadaffi before he was killed in the Libyan conflict of 2011.

The Satanic Verses thirty years on

Submitted by AWL on 2 March, 2019 - 8:56 Author: Matthew Thompson
Rushdie

It is thirty years since the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, partly based on the life of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sparked protests across the Muslim world, with riots in India and Pakistan in which dozens of Rushdie's fellow Muslims were shot dead, book burnings on the streets of Britain, and ultimately an Iranian death sentence which sent its author into hiding under armed police guard.

Bolshevism, the civil war, and after

Submitted by AWL on 27 February, 2019 - 11:18 Author: Barry Finger
Lenin

Review of In Defence of Bolshevism, £12 including UK postage. Purchase here.

Mass socialist parties, trade unions, workers councils and organs of struggle are places for debate, discussion, deliberation and opposition, where, ideally, everything is openly evaluated. Their functionality requires constituencies free to transmit their will to the administrators of power, not only within these organisations themselves but also to the broader institutions and arenas in which they participate.

The Russian civil war, 1917-22

Submitted by AWL on 20 February, 2019 - 11:59 Author: Martin Thomas
civil war

A discussion of Jean-Jacques Marie's book La guerre civile russe, 1917-22

Notice the dates: 1917-22. Jean-Jacques Marie, in his history, establishes that the conventional account, according to which the civil war was over by the start of 1921, and all the “emergency” measures by the Bolsheviks after that stemmed only from the Bolsheviks’ supposed lack of democratic understanding, is false.

The historians and the Bolsheviks

Submitted by AWL on 13 February, 2019 - 10:53 Author: Colin Foster
civil war

On Tsarism, the bourgeois liberals under Tsarism, the Provisional Government in 1917, the Whites in the Civil War, and even the Mensheviks and the SRs, what Figes has to say is pretty much what the Bolsheviks said of them. Thus, for example: “Trotsky described Martov as the ‘Hamlet of Democratic Socialism’ – and this is just about the sum of it… [His qualities] made him soft and indecisive when just the opposite was required”.

Bolshevism, the civil war, and Stalinism

Submitted by martin on 4 February, 2019 - 12:40 Author: Martin Thomas
civil war

A review of Samuel Farber, Before Stalinism (Polity Press, 1990), re-posted from here.

Sam Farber, justly respected for his critical Marxist writings on Cuba, sums up his attitude in this book by quoting Victor Serge, an anarchist who rallied to the Bolsheviks after October 1917, became an activist in the Left Opposition, and then parted ways with Trotsky over his, Serge’s, rejection of Trotsky’s criticisms of the POUM in the Spanish Civil War.

A deviation from the road

Submitted by AWL on 30 January, 2019 - 11:20 Author: Andrew Coates
IDoB cover

“The force of things and the behaviour of men have contradicted all Lenin’s optimistic forecasts, his hopes in a superior democracy as much as his semi-libertarian ideas expressed in the State and Revolution and other writings of the same period, at the dawn of the revolution. Nothing in the individual theses of Trotsky has stood the test any better, in particular his wordy and abstract theory of the ‘permanent revolution’.” — Boris Souvarine, Stalin. A Critical Survey of Bolshevism, 1939.

Crisis and Sequels out in paperback

Submitted by AWL on 23 January, 2019 - 10:58 Author: Janet Burstall
c&s cover

Martin Thomas outlines the guide he followed in compiling Crisis and Sequels, a book on the 2007-8 crash and its aftermath now out in paperback edition.

“Analysis must proceed not from a blurred outline of a ‘typical’ capitalist economy, but from the complex reality of a world economy with its own structure and within it national economies substantially different in pattern both from the global structure and from each other”.

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