Reviews

The message from Andrew Murray

Published on: Wed, 16/10/2019 - 09:18
Author

Ann Field

Ever the Stalinist nostalgic, in his new book The Fall and Rise of the British Left, Murray laments the passing away of “a largely vanished world of working-class power” and the fact that “none of the scenarios which gripped the left I grew up with in the twentieth century appear fully plausible any more.”

What is to fill the vacuum?

Murray’s answer is not: Slough off the dead weight of Stalinism, re-assert the centrality of independent working-class politics, and reforge a labour movement fit for the overthrow of capitalism.

Instead, and this is his explanation for Corbyn’s election as Labour

Lampooning love

Published on: Wed, 16/10/2019 - 08:58
Author

Josh Chown

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which ran last week at the Network Theatre, London, presents a sequence of comical vignettes of different stages of relationships and romance.

Highlighting the problems of relationships in capitalist society, the show immediately draws comparisons between gender roles and attitudes, with the men possessing overbearing egos, while the women are waiting at home for telephone calls, or for the final seconds of a football match to arrive.

The musical ran for 12 years off-Broadway in New York in 1996-2008. This production intertwines scenes of heterosexual

How debt crushes education

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 10:31
Author

Natalia Cassidy

For many Americans, choices about higher education come with stark consequences in terms of the levels of debt for students and their families will have to take on.

The UK student debt system appears relatively benign in comparison. The levels of repayment are significantly lower than in the USA, the debt repayment threshold much higher.

In the UK, methods of financing are, for the most part, centralised through the state, whereas in the USA a lot of student debt is to private lenders. University fees in the USA are largely unregulated, and have risen sharply, including at public universities.

The sixties turning dark

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 09:27
Author

Duncan Morrison

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is his first one not distributed by Harvey Weinstein.

It is a semi-fictionalisation of events around Charles Manson’s Family’s murder of Sharon Tate and her associates in 1969.

The film is well worth seeing and seems to capture the feel of late 60s Los Angeles very well. But it is hard not to consider the film in the light of the numerous allegations of sexual assault and rape made against Weinstein and Tarantino’s failure to act on reports, both from his then partner and from actors in his films, about Weinstein’s behaviour

The Irish border and Brexit

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 09:56
Author

Micheál MacEoin

One crucial aspect of Brexit, the impact on the Irish (or, rather, British-Irish) Border, was comprehensively ignored in the British media during the 2016 referendum campaign itself.

It is fitting, then, that it has threatened to unravel the whole Brexit process, in the form of the “backstop”, a set of guarantees against the imposition of a hard border which have been written into the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

The flipside of that fact is that Johnson’s drive for a “no deal” Brexit, if it succeeds, will mean in effect a new partition of Ireland, a reversal of the slow

Learning from the rich debates of the past

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 09:18
Author

Paul Hampton

The Communist International (Comintern), founded in the aftermath of the October 1917 Russian revolution, was the greatest forum for Marxist strategic debate so far.

The first five years of the Comintern, between 1919 and 1923 were a school for learning and discussing how revolutionary parties should be built, how to assess the situation and orientate, and how to win a majority of workers to socialism.

The publication of The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, edited by Mike Taber, is extremely valuable. This volume is

Was “permanent revolution” the flaw?

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 08:42
Author

Martin Thomas

A discussion of Jacques Texier's book Revolution et democratie chez Marx et Engels

Reformist socialism? Who is there, who could there be, who would hold to such a doctrine today?

As a positive scheme for a society of free and democratic cooperation, rather than as a negative reluctance to see working-class struggle rise too high?

Labour's 2017 manifesto was a refreshing break from New Labour. But it did not propose to replace a society of the rich Few and the hard-up Many by equality. It proposed only to take a little from those Few to alleviate the Many.

And, unlike some reformist-socialist

See you next year!

Published on: Wed, 18/09/2019 - 09:29
Author

Vicki Morris

Janine Booth has written about her experience in her new book The Big J vs The Big C: Issues, Experiences and Poems in the Battle Against Breast Cancer, charting her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.

One in two people will develop cancer during their lives. The increasing incidence is mainly a result of more people living longer.

Cancer was something that people were ashamed to mention, endured by a silent minority in private, but now is more openly talked about.

There are many different cancers, some eminently survivable, taking different treatments to cure them or keep them at bay.

Convergence on the right

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:09
Author

Cathy Nugent

″The right has changed; it has embraced the ideas of its outliers″, argues Dave Renton at the start of The New Authoritarians, Convergence on the Right. By embracing the outliers, Renton says, Trump and others have ″radicalised″ their conservative message.

At the same time Renton says, the left has failed to reassess the shape of the new right spectrum and have been weak on challenging its central ideas. The most important of these, for Renton, is its particular form of racism, how the ″right seeks to restrict welfare benefits to members of the [invented] national community, excluding migrants

Werner Scholem: Trotskyism, Zinovievism, antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:58
Author

Paul Hampton

The socialist life of Werner Scholem deserves to be better known. The publication of Ralf Hoffrogge’s exhaustive biography, A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany (Haymarket 2018), means that English readers now have the opportunity to appreciate his contribution.

Werner Scholem was born in Germany in December 1895. He joined the Socialist Workers’ Youth group as a teenager in 1912 and then the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on turning 18.

Scholem opposed the First World War but was conscripted, wounded on the Eastern front and then imprisoned for anti-war activities. He was sent to the Western

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