Setting the Record Straight

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I wouldn't expect Chris Nineham to agree with my politics, but I would expect him to properly read and assimilate the books he reviews.

In the case of the review of my book One No, Many Yeses (June SR) he doesn't appear to have done so. I'd like to put the record straight for others.

Just a few examples: How Nineham can claim that 'it feels like [the book] ends with the Genoa protests in 2001' when it contains an entire chapter on the World Social Forum in January 2002 and ends on a list of imperial and corporate stitch-ups from November 2002 is beyond me. Similarly, his claim that 'Kingsnorth barely considers the way the movement has responded to the attack on the World Trade Centre' is bizarre, as the book spends half a chapter considering how the international Peoples' Global Action meeting that took place a week after the 11 September attacks did just that.

These errors, and others that I don't have room to quote are relatively small, though, compared to Nineham's central claim: my apparent 'belief' that this movement's 'strength comes from its refusal to openly challenge the centres of capitalist power'. Nineham is apparently unable to understand that this movement is doing just this, with great success; just not in a way that fits comfortably within the confines of his political dogma. Far from being a collection of disorganised localisers who need organising and centralising (presumably by him) this movement, as the book makes very clear, is a way of working out new approaches to 'dissolving capitalism', precisely because it has concluded that the old ones - the ones that Nineham is still wedded to - don't work.

Nineham sums the issue up himself, in his last paragraph. What, he asks, should be done about state power, elections, imperialism and coalitions? 'The idea of a movement today which doesn't have these strategic political discussions is a daydream,' he says. Quite right. The entire book is just such a discussion, and the last chapter is specifically devoted to radical suggestions for long-term change at national, local and international level. Nineham's real gripe is that he doesn't agree with these ideas, and so he responds by pretending they don't exist. By doing so, ironically, he justifies the book's criticism of his party and its politics.

Paul Kingsnorth