Judy Cox

Social reproduction theory

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Social Reproduction Theory, edited by Tithi Bhattacharya, has much more to offer than Sue Caldwell suggests in her review (July/August SR).

The essays provide a serious and rigorous attempt to extend a fundamental Marxist concept, the role of labour in creating value, to areas of life which have been neglected by many Marxist theoreticians, centrally the role of unpaid domestic labour in the reproduction of labour power.

Blake's Jerusalem

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Jerusalem, the song based on a poem by William Blake, is now the unofficial national anthem.

For Danny Boyle, on the left, Jerusalem created the opportunity to include industrial workers in the Olympic opening ceremony. For David Cameron, on the right, Jerusalem is an expression of distinctively English nationhood. For many ordinary people Jerusalem offers a welcome alternative to the depressing, jingoist dirge of God Save the Queen.

Jerusalem is open to many interpretations. William Blake was a complex character and his works can be difficult to read - but one thing Blake was not was a nationalist of any kind. He was a revolutionary.

Fresh Production

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Review of "Marx's Das Kapital", Francis Wheen, Atlantic Books £9.99

Francis Wheen's "biography" of Karl Marx's Capital is amusing and provocative, fascinating and at times infuriating. It covers a lot of ground for a book of only 130 pages.

Wheen's central theme is that Capital should be read not merely as an economic treatise but as a great work of Victorian gothic with Marx as a "poet of the dialectic". This idea appears to have originated in some insights developed by the Marxist philosopher Marshall Berman who argued that Marx should be considered as one of the great tortured giants of the 19th century.

A Novel Detective

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Review of 'An Easy Thing', Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Friction £7.99

An Easy Thing is the first book to be published by Friction, a new publishing enterprise launched by Respect MP George Galloway and his colleague Ron McKay. The aim of Friction is to bring to British audiences works of fiction and non-fiction from around the world which will appeal to radical and left wing audiences. At a packed launch in a restaurant on Brick Lane, George said that he hoped the Friction imprint will publish 'books that burn, books that cause controversy and get people talking'.

Independents' Day

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Judy Cox meets the others.

One sign of disillusion with the major parties is the growth of Respect. Another is the number of people standing as independent candidates. The most powerful example is the three high-profile anti-war campaigners challenging arch-warmongers in the general election. Rose Gentle and Reg Keys are backed by Military Families Against the War. Rose's son, Gordon, was killed in Iraq last summer. She is attracting wide support for her challenge to armed forces minister Adam Ingram in East Kilbride.

The Minnesotan Candidate

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Review of 'The Plot Against America', Philip Roth, Jonathan Cape £16.99

America - the world's policeman, safeguarding democracy. If you don't buy that image of George Bush's US this novel will speak to you. Although it is set in the 1940s, Philip Roth's hugely successful book addresses the growing power of the US right and the impact of their increasingly vicious 'war on terror'. The novel demonstrates that US democracy is vulnerable - not to Al Qaida, but to the far right in the US itself. The Plot Against America is not hatched by Islamic terrorists but by homegrown fascists.

Suffragette City

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Review of ’Sylvia Pankhurst‘ by Shirley Harrison, Aurum Press £20

Sylvia Pankhurst was one of the outstanding women activists in British history. She was the most courageous of the Suffragettes, who fought for votes for women. But she was also a socialist who devoted her huge energies to improving life for working class women and men. Throughout her life Sylvia remained passionately committed to challenging racism. She employed the first black journalist in Britain, Claude McKay, on her socialist paper, The Workers‘ Dreadnought.

Mississippi Murder

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Review of 'The Little Friend', Donna Tart, Bloomsbury £16.99

From the gripping opening page of Donna Tartt's new novel, you know you are on unfamiliar ground. The book is set in the American Deep South--home to poisonous snakes and redneck preachers, a place of sweltering heat and exotic plants.

The book begins with the shocking murder of a much loved nine year old boy, Robin. The story then jumps forwards a few years and describes the impact of the murder on Robin's relatives--his eccentric aunts, his devastated mum Charlotte and his sisters Harriet and Allison.

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