Megan Trudell

Fighting Back

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John Newsinger

Fighting Back

US politics over the last couple of years has been a see-saw of the rise of the right in the guise of the "grassroots" Tea Party and the resurgence of independent working class action and anti-capitalist protest with the revolt in Wisconsin, subsequently defeated, and the explosion of the Occupy movement.

The gathering storm

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The depth of the devastation of ordinary American lives means that the divisions between workers and protesters that existed in the 1960s have collapsed, writes Megan Trudell

It could be argued that it's been a long time coming. For 30 years, US capitalism's answer to falling rates of profitability has been to restructure - cutting manufacturing jobs, relocating operations from former industrial heartlands to the much more weakly unionised South and West, intensifying work processes, deregulating industry, privatising services and extending working hours while chipping away at wages and holiday and sickness benefits.

Meat Market

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Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny - journalist, political blogger, socialist and feminist activist - is rightly angry about the condition of women's lives under capitalism and the way our bodies are "punished and policed". Her short book touches on important aspects of the "new sexism" - including sexuality and alienation, eating disorders, housework and prostitution. Penny's outrage is palpable, justified and often erudite.

A Red Family

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Mickey Friedman, University of Illinois Press; £17.99

"Politics", Barbara Scales says at the end of this book, is "the way you live every moment of your life". She knows what she is talking about. Her parents, Junius and Gladys Scales, were Communist Party (CP) members in the US during the 1940s and 1950s - her father the only American to go to prison for being a Communist. Their story - told through interviews recorded in 1971 and only recently published - is one of considerable courage and affection, great candour and political conviction of the deepest kind.

US elections: Obama's changed

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Gary Younge (Feature, Socialist Review, July/August 2008) is right to stress the historical importance of a black American running for the White House, and to emphasise the aspirations that the Obama camp has given voice to.

However, Younge is also right to point to the limitations of Obama's promises. Since his article was written, Obama has moved steadily away from the messages of change and "yes, we can!"

Obama has restated his commitment to Israel and has confirmed that he will "do whatever is necessary" to keep Iran in check. He also recently blamed absent black fathers for the suffering of their communities. Instead of attacking the racism entrenched in the US, he chose to blame its victims.

Imperialism Reloaded

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Megan Trudell looks at three recent books that have sought to analyse imperialism

War without end is the grim prognosis that seemingly faces the world since 9/11. The bid for global hegemony by the US in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, given accelerated impetus by the attacks on the World Trade Centre, is the feature of capitalism shaping contemporary politics more than any other. As John Bellamy Foster opens his recent collection of essays, "Global warfare, putatively against terrorism but more realistically in the service of imperialism, is the dominant political reality of the opening decade of the 21st century."

Open the Door to Revolution

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The 1905 Russian uprising inspires Megan Trudell.

This special issue of the Revolutionary History journal is a real treat. A world away from dry accounts of historical events, it succeeds in shedding much new light on the 1905 Russian Revolution in an accessible and exciting way. A selection of extracts from those involved in the revolution has been chosen to bring it alive in this, its anniversary year. Most are available in English translation for the first time.

Middle Class Misdeeds

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Review of ’House of Sand and Fog‘, director Vadim Perelman

Publicised as an ’exploration of the American Dream gone awry‘, House of Sand and Fog looks promising. A thriller revolving around disputed ownership of a house, the film attempts to deal with issues of immigration, racism, and the crushing of individual hopes by bureaucratic state machinery and alienation. As such, and as a thriller that draws its tension from the relationship between its characters rather than special effects and shootouts, it is certainly streets ahead of most Hollywood movies.

Of Mouse and Men

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Review of 'Six Easy Pieces', Walter Mosley, Serpent's Tail £12

It is 1964, and Easy Rawlins is working as a janitor at Sojourner Truth school in Los Angeles. When someone sets fire to his school, Mosley's enduring character begins to move back into the semi-criminal circles of his youth to find the culprit.

In these six separate but linked stories, Easy is living with his two adopted children and a woman whose love he is unsure of. He is tortured by guilt for his part in the death of his friend Mouse. It is this emotional turmoil which sends him away from his new life to help various friends out of sticky situations.

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