Anindya Bhattacharyya

Duchamp, Lichtenstein and pop art

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Two galleries in central London are currently hosting exhibitions devoted to major 20th century artists. The Barbican's show, entitled The Bride and the Bachelors, focuses on the work of pioneering French artist Marcel Duchamp. Meanwhile the Tate Modern has unveiled its latest blockbuster, a retrospective devoted to the Pop Art paintings of Roy Lichtenstein.

Yet the two shows take quite different approaches to their subjects, suggesting two different underlying attitudes towards popular culture. The Barbican exhibition is steeped in history, tracing the connections between Duchamp and a generation of younger US-based artists directly influenced by him. The Tate's show is much more straightforward, and ends up as flat and featureless as Lichtenstein's canvases.

Defending Multiculturalism

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Hassan Mahamdallie (ed)

I'm just about old enough to remember the bad old days: Britain in the 1970s, when casual, vicious, open racism was commonplace and everyday. And with the benefit of hindsight, looking back I can see something that perhaps wasn't so clear at the time: the role that certain ideas about culture played in that day to day racism.

BNP: Contemporary Perspectives

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Nigel Copsey and Graham Macklin (eds)

This book brings together a series of academic papers researching the fascist British National Party (BNP). It is, unfortunately, academic in the worst sense of the word. It has little new to say to anyone who has been paying attention to the news or has been involved in anti-fascist campaigning. A couple of exceptions aside, the analysis is dull and superficial, with little or no grasp of how the BNP fits into a wider dynamic of racism in society. Islamophobia barely merits a mention - an astonishing omission.

Fuelling Islamophobia

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As austerity attacks bite, the threat posed by anti-Muslim racism is likely to grow.

The recent student protests have been an inspiration, but not everyone is happy about them.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as "Tommy Robinson", leader of the racist English Defence League (EDL), made his displeasure known at a demonstration in Peterborough in December. He described students as "dirty, stinking layabouts" and threatened to send EDL thugs to attack future student protests.

The English Defence League: Not suited but booted

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This summer saw a sinister new development on the far right of British politics.

Groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) have started to take to the streets, organising anti-Muslim "demonstrations" in towns and cities such as Birmingham, Luton and Harrow.

Anti-fascists have responded by mobilising against the EDL, often at very short notice. In Birmingham thousands mobilised on two occasions to chase them out of town. And in Harrow last month some 2,000 people, of all ages and backgrounds, turned out to defend the local mosque from a protest planned by the EDL and an organisation called "Stop the Islamisation of Europe".

Nothing democratic about Nazis

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How do we challenge the Nazi British National Party now that it has won two seats in the European parliament and is attempting to appear part of the mainstream? Anindya Bhattacharyya argues we have to start with an understanding of the nature of fascism.

The election of two members of the fascist British National Party (BNP) to the European Parliament in June has triggered a variety of reactions. Most people are rightly shocked and disgusted that Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, a pair of hardened racists with a long history of involvement in Nazi politics, grabbed enough votes to become Euro MPs.

The Meaning of Sarkozy

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Alain Badiou, Verso; £12.99

Philosophers, it is well known, only interpret the world, when the point is to change it. France's Alain Badiou is a rare exception to this rule - a philosopher who tries to do both. Published in France in 2007, this book was conceived as a polemical response to the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as the country's president in May that year. It proved to be a surprise hit.

Rumsfeld

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Andrew Cockburn, Verso, £17.99

One of the most pleasing aspects of the thrashing the Republicans suffered in last year's elections to the US Congress was seeing Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush's defence secretary and chief architect of the Iraq war, getting unceremoniously dumped.

The fact that Rumsfeld is now permanently out of power might make this new biography by Andrew Cockburn seem less than politically urgent. But it would be a crying shame if people overlooked this meticulously researched and thoroughly addictive little book.

Material Fact

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Review of 'Reflections on the Marxist Theory of History', Paul Blackledge, Manchester University Press, £12.99

Today's political struggles necessarily involve an ideological battle over history, which in turn leads to theoretical arguments over the nature of history. Marxists have traditionally held a distinctive position in this theoretical argument, known as historical materialism.

In Reflections on the Marxist Theory of History, Paul Blackledge defends historical materialism against its liberal and conservative rivals, as well as detailing the many arguments over historical materialism that have occurred among Marxist historians.

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