John Newsinger

Jeremy Corbyn and the Strange Rebirth of Labour England

Issue section: 

Once upon a time there was an enchanted land called Labour England which had “at its heart the idea of social, public and cooperative ownership as part of a mixed economy”.

This Wonderland had been created by a great wizard, Clement Attlee, who had “changed the world”. He had introduced the NHS, a massive house-building programme, nationalised the mines, brought the troops back from Europe and the Far East “and struck at the very heart of British Imperialism by giving independence to India”.

God, greed, and homophobia

Issue section: 

The Christian right in the US has been a bulwark of reaction for decades. John Newsinger discusses its integration in the New Conservative agenda championed by former president Ronald Reagan.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, the Christian right in the US had been content to act as cheerleaders for US capitalism against atheistic Communism abroad. This began to change in the 1960s and 1970s when social and political change threatened all they held dear.

The first great challenge was the Civil Rights Movement. It is ironic that the Christian right condemned the involvement of the likes of Martin Luther King in political campaigning on the grounds that the clergy should keep out of politics.

Codename Intelligentsia

Issue section: 

This is a very good book. It makes an important contribution to the history of British Communism. Russell Campbell painstakingly chronicles how the Communist Party transformed the upper class socialist Ivor Montagu, a younger son of Lord Swaythling, into a shabby apologist for the very worst excesses of Stalinism, someone even prepared to work for the Russian secret police, the GRU.

In God we entrust money

Issue section: 

Today’s religious support for the US regime is not new but was conciously created. John Newsinger talks about political evangelist Billy Graham and what has been called the Spiritual-Industrial Complex.

The Christian right played a vital role in electing Donald Trump to the presidency in November 2016. Evangelical Christians made up a third of electorate and four out of every five of them voted for Trump.

And, so far at least, they have remained loyal to the man they consider to be God’s Chosen. Understanding the strategic position they occupy in US politics today is vital.

Charles Aznavour: a forgotten episode

Issue section: 

Charles Aznavour, the French singer and songwriter, died on 1 October, aged 94.

The son of parents who had fled the Armenian genocide during the First World War, his family’s involvement with the Communist resistance movement in Paris during the Second World War has not been given enough prominence in the obituaries that have appeared in the British press.

George Orwell Illustrated

Issue section: 

The great bulk of this book is a reprint of the 1984 publication Orwell for Beginners. I must confess I never read it at the time and only now appreciate what a great book I missed out on. It was an outstanding introduction of George Orwell’s politics that has certainly stood the test of time, and the artwork is tremendous. The reprint is accompanied by a 60-plus page update entitled “Planet Orwell”.

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

Issue section: 

Paul Hanebrink’s tremendous book could not be more timely. As he points out, we are in the middle of a “surge in political activity on the far-right in Europe and North America”. At Charlottesville there were neo-Nazis shouting the slogan “The Jews Will Not Replace Us”.

These are dangerous times and we need to know as much about the history and politics of the far-right as we can. Hanebrink’s book is a challenging and important contribution helping to develop that understanding.

Orwell or Carroll?

Issue section: 

Many people have turned to George Orwell and his novel Nineteen Eighty Four for assistance in trying to understand the Trump presidency and its implications for both the US and the wider world. This is a mistake. Orwell certainly offers insight into the activities of the many Big Brothers who have paraded on the world stage since he wrote the novel, but if the truth be told, Big Baby is completely beyond him.

The Murderer of Warren Street

Issue section: 

The French Blanquist revolutionary, Emmanuel Barthelemy, was hanged for the Warren Street murders on 22 January 1855. He had been sentenced to death, even though the jury that found him guilty had recommended clemency. It was a public execution, watched by perhaps as many as 10,000 people, apparently a disappointing crowd for the time.

How had a dedicated and uncompromising French revolutionary, a veteran of the 1848 barricades, come to die on the scaffold in London?

100 years of RAF bombing

Issue section: 

This year the establishment has been celebrating the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. All very well if you enjoy celebrating colonialism made cheaper and more deadly.

In 1921 eight RAF planes carried out a bombing raid against a village in Iraq. The villagers were terrified and men, women and children fled their homes, taking shelter in the shallows of a nearby lake. This, as the official report noted, made them “good targets for the machineguns”.

Their crime was non-payment of taxes. For some reason the massacre of rebellious “natives” from the air for non-payment of taxes has not really figured in this year’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF.


Subscribe to RSS - John Newsinger