Gareth Jenkins

Money and Market Reign Supreme

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Review of 'The Last Mitterrand', director Robert Guédiguian

Not for nothing was François Mitterrand, socialist president of France between 1981 and 1995, known as the sphinx. His personal and public life remained, until very near the end of his life, inscrutable. It was only after Mitterrand's death from prostate cancer in early 1996 (the illness had been a secret) that aspects of his early political life became a matter of acute controversy, following the sensational publication of his memoirs, edited from interviews by the journalist Georges-Marc Benamou.

Say It Ain't Joe

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Review of 'Sartre Against Stalinism', Ian Birchall, Berghahn Books £16.99

During his lifetime Jean-Paul Sartre achieved a fame denied to most 20th century novelists, playwrights and philosophers. It wasn't just that his ideas - about struggling for freedom in an absurd world - struck a chord with a generation revolted by the collapse of the Third Republic, by the Nazi Occupation and by the collaborationist Vichy regime. It was that he was prepared to intervene, as a committed intellectual, in the great political movements of his time.

An Uncivil War

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Review of 'Marx, Tocqueville, and Race in America', August Nimtz, Lexington Books £20.95

Central to the argument in this book is Marx's famous comment in Capital, 'Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black skin it is branded.' This, Nimtz argues, underpinned Marx and Engels' approach to the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). At stake was the development of the American working class - and indeed of the European working class - not only the fate of the black slaves. Thus Nimtz shows how important race was to Marx and Engels' understanding of class - contrary to received wisdom.

Respect: 'The Unity We're All Looking For'

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Julie Bundy and Gareth Jenkins spoke to activists at the launch convention about how they see the coalition developing.

Over 1,400 people attended the founding of the Respect coalition at Friends Meeting House in London at the end of January: the young and the old, trade unionists, the left and those who have come to politics though the anti-war movement. The convention represented something historic in British politics - an embryonic movement making a decisive break from seeing the Labour Party as the party of the working class.

Edward Upward: No Home but the Struggle

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Gareth Jenkins analyses Edward Upward‘s contribution to 20th century literature.

The novelist Edward Upward recently celebrated his 100th birthday. He is the last link with a generation of writers - writers like the novelist Christopher Isherwood and the poet W H Auden - who were radicalised in the 1930s by the horrors of fascism and the struggle of ordinary people for a better world.

Orwell Centenary: Culture, Class and Communism

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George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Gareth Jenkins assesses Orwell's writing on culture.

Room 101, Big Brother, doublethink - all these have passed into the language to become instantly recognisable, though in ways that might have surprised Orwell. They are testimony to the power of his writing and the way it has become part of everyday culture.

Progressing Ever Upward

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Review of 'A Renegade in Springtime', Edward Upward, Enitharmon £15

Edward Upward, now approaching his 100th birthday, is the last of the 1930s generation of British left wing writers. This selection of short stories spans his entire output from the late 1920s to the 21st century.

The novelist Christopher Isherwood and the poets W H Auden and Stephen Spender are generally well known. Their work has often been taken to define the literature of the 'red decade'--that period when the triumph of fascism in Germany and the Spanish Civil War politicised a generation of writers who had come to maturity after the First World War.

Civil liberties - The Big Brother House in Westminster

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New Labour likes to vaunt its modernising project--particularly when it comes to the rights of the individual. Yet its obsession with the right wing agenda--particularly crime, benefits, asylum seekers and now terrorism--pushes it in the direction of strengthening the state and eroding civil liberties.

Last month Tony Blair promised a new white paper, the eleventh piece of criminal justice legislation since Labour came to office in 1997. It would ditch the double jeopardy rule that prevents people being tried twice for the same crime--even though the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence rejected the move.

There would be a new intermediate tier of justice, where a judge sitting with two lay magistrates tried cases too serious to be tried by magistrates on their own, in practice imposing even tighter restrictions on the right to jury trial.


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