Mark O'Brien

Value in a personal view of class

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In his review of Lynsey Hanley’s Respectable (June SR), Carlo Morelli makes the perfectly correct observation that the book is not informed by a Marxist analysis of class relations.

In his impatience with this fact, however, Carlo kind of misses the most important thing about the book: this is one person’s reflections upon her own life.

Hanley shares with her audience the numerous put-downs in her early life and the sense of suffocation she felt at the limited opportunities on offer to her.

Freud, sex and the socialist imagination

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Freud’s methods may not have been very scientific, but his insights into the social construction of gender and sexual identity were remarkably radical for a middle class man in conservative Vienna a century ago. Socialists can take those radical insights far further, writes Mark O’Brien.

Freud presents an intriguing paradox for Marxists. His explicit theory of the psyche was clearly not revolutionary. He believed that the psychological repression of desire was the necessary price for the achievements of “civilisation”.

He was also deeply pessimistic about the possibility of human transformation.

Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic

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Tate Liverpool, until 25 April 2010

The opening pieces in this comprehensive exhibition express its major theme. The artists of the Black American avant-garde of the 1930s were as influenced by the contemporary trends in European art as they were by the vibrancy of the street life and jazz culture of the US ghetto. The artists of what became known as the Harlem Renaissance reacted against the exoticisation of non-European peoples, typical of the "primitivist" art of a previous generation, by embracing the styles current within the world of European art.

New Lanark

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South Lanarkshire, Scotland

Readers of Socialist Review may like to know, if they did not already, that 2008 is the 150th anniversary of the death of Robert Owen. In Engels' Socialism, Utopian and Scientific the term "Utopian Socialists" was coined for the group that included Owen and made first attempts to formulate a vision of what a socialist society might be like.

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