Nick Grant

Traveling Soul

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This Is My Country. People Get Ready. We’re A Winner. Mighty, Mighty (Spade and Whitey). Keep On Keepin On. Future Shock. We Gotta Have Peace. Power To The People. Ever since the Middle Passage, African-American struggles for freedom, justice and dignity have had a soundtrack.

At first it may only have been patterns beaten on a resonating surface and field songs of cruel Southern plantation work. But their steady elaboration into country blues, urban jazz and Sunday gospel forms became electrified after millions migrated north before and during the Second World War.

Idiotism

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Neal Curtis

You might recognise Neal Curtis' exasperation that: "Privatisation and the associated practices of deregulation, competition, and marketisation have achieved such ascendancy that it is almost impossible to challenge this discourse without seeming to be out of touch, backward, romantic, or even politically sectarian, unwilling to bend the knee to corporate absolutism"

We do indeed face idiotic politicians - like UK ministers George Osborne and Michael Gove. They dogmatically impose mean, whimsical, unworkable, wasteful and regressive policies.

Ken Loach at the BBC

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Today Ken Loach is an internationally feted filmmaker. But he was also once a prophet in his own country. Working with a generation of radicals, he excelled at what became known as the drama-documentary - a TV genre that was socially engaged, aesthetically experimental and politically influential. It made working class people the subject of public service broadcasting. This essential collection has many of the key works which now deserve the widest rescreening for their enduring relevance and artistic courage.

Global Auction of Public Assets

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Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman Books, £18

Anyone working in, or dependent on, education, health, housing, transport, civil and social services knows the negative impact that privatisation has wrought on pay, jobs and the quality of these vital services.

At best, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and their variants like Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) have become code words for cheapened services benefiting only the private part of these lopsided "partnerships". Wags among you will have much ruder interpretations of the PPP and PFI acronyms!

A class traitor?

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I recently read Stephen Jay Gould's essay on "Natural Selection and the Human Brain", from his collection, The Panda's Thumb.

It outlines the rift between Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace on this question, one which persists as the key ideological battleground between science and religion today, and accounts for recent polls suggesting that no more than a quarter of Britain's population "believe" in Darwinism.

In Gould's explanation Wallace was an arch-proponent of what we now call "intelligent design" the notion that Darwin did god a massive favour by demonstrating the coherence of his grand and beautiful works.

Che: Part One

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Director Steven Soderbergh; Release date: out now

In 1960 Cuba's rebel leaders were fighting for their political lives, a year after ousting US stooge President Batista.

Sabotage took many forms. On 5 March the arms-laden La Coubre exploded in Havana dock, killing hundreds. At the next day's funeral gathering a young photographer, Alberto Korda, captured an image that would become one of the century's greatest.

Ernesto "Che" Guevara's portrait spoke volumes to subsequent generations and was reproduced billions of times worldwide.

Third rate artist

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Sorry, Colin Wilson, but the "impoverished and philistine view we should reject" concerning the over-hyped and utterly derivative painter, Francis Bacon, is yours, not Tom Davies (Feedback, Socialist Review, December 2008).

You rightly cite Leon Trotsky's benchmark thoughts on art being something, like science, which should be judged by its own truths. Then you go on to suggest that, "The twisted male bodies also relate to Bacon's homosexuality. All sex between men was illegal until 1967. Many gay men, including Bacon, internalised this."

Marxism and Educational Theory

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Mike Cole, Routledge £24.99

Politicians may have screwed up our communities with their wars, privatisations and diminished civil liberties. But it seems that public servants are legally obliged to clean up the consequent mess of poverty and despair. From September 2008 Ofsted will be inspecting your local school to see how well staff are doing with the task of achieving Community Cohesion.

Weightless Stone

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Review of "World Trade Center", Director: Oliver Stone

At the corner of 207th Street and Broadway, Inwood, at the very northern tip of Manhattan Island stands the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd. On its exterior there is a starkly modernist version of the customary crucifix. It is formed from the jagged and rusted remnants of two intersecting girders from the World Trade Centre.

Look again at the street sign and you will find that this short stretch has been rechristened "Inwood Heroes of 9/11" because this area was home to hundreds of stricken New York firefighters.

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