Nicolai Gentchev

Revolutionary Interventions

Issue section: 

Review of 'The Balkan Socialist Tradition', Editors Dragan Plavsic and
Andreja Zivkovic, Revolutionary History £12.95

The disintegration of Yugoslavia through conflict and war in the 1990s created an image of the Balkans that led some on the left to back Nato's 1999 war over Kosovo. In this picture, nationalism comes from within the Balkans while peace comes from western intervention.

Trampling the Astroturf

Issue section: 

Review of 'The Fountain at the Centre of the World' by Robert Newman, Verso £10.99

This is an ambitious novel that weaves the struggle against globalisation into the story of Chano Salgado. On the way we visit the blowing up of a pipeline in Mexico, a detention centre for asylum seekers in England and the Battle for Seattle at the end of November 1999.

Europe: Enter at your Peril

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Tony Blair's government was due to announce the result of the Treasury's 'five economic tests on the euro' on 9 June, after bitter rows within New Labour.

We have come a long way since the Tories seemed to have a monopoly on being torn apart by arguments over the euro and Europe. Labour's official policy is that it will call a referendum and then argue for entry if it is 'in Britain's economic interest to do so'. The problem is that this supposedly 'economic' judgement on the five tests is in fact also about politics. And there are three deep splits behind the reluctance either to decisively reject the euro or to leap into the unknown of a referendum.

Start Worrying and Loathe the Bomb

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'The New Nuclear Danger', Helen Caldicott, The New Press £10.95

While the war on Iraq focused attention on conventional weapons, the US continues to develop its Star Wars programme. With the 'war on terror' replacing the Cold War, it might seem logical that nuclear weapons would lose some of their strategic importance. But George W Bush's recent hike in the US military budget did not neglect nuclear projects.

Money for Something

Issue section: 

Review of 'Labour Party Plc', David Osler, Mainstream Publishing £15.99

Which party received more million-pound donations in 2002: Labour or the Tories? Ten years ago, when Tony Blair was still a shadow cabinet minister, this would have been a strange question to ask. Now, to know for sure, you would have to wait until they both published their accounts, and then ask about all the information not contained there. While political parties have to disclose who donates more than £5,000, they don't have to disclose the total amount they raise.

Russia: The Theatre of War

Issue section: 

The brutal storming of a Moscow theatre by Russian forces last month led to the deaths of 117 hostages and all 50 hostage takers.

At least 113 of the hostages were killed, not by gunshot wounds, but by the deadly poison gas the Russian forces pumped into the theatre. The symptoms of the survivors led scientists such as Professor Steven Rose to conclude that the gas used was a variant of the nerve gas BZ developed by the US military in the 1970s. Some have since argued that the gas may have been a derivative of heroin. Whatever it was, the Russian authorities refused to disclose what gas was used, even to the doctors treating the victims, citing reasons of national security.

Play for Today

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Ivanov' by Anton Chekhov, National Theatre, London

It is easy to dismiss Ivanov, alongside Chekhov's other plays, as being full of melancholy middle class moaners who need a kick up the backside. Easy but, I think, a mistake.

The play starts in the house of Nikolai Ivanov, who owns some land and is a smalltime local politician. He has fallen on hard times, and is reduced to juggling his debts and wondering how he can survive. He lives with his uncle, a minor aristocrat who has blown everything except his title, and his wife, who has been disowned by her family.

Even the Best Laid Plans Go Wrong

Issue section: 

Review of 'Russia: Class and Power 1917-2000', Mike Haynes, Bookmarks £12

For most of the 20th century anyone who described him or herself as a socialist would quickly be asked where they stood on Russia.

Today such questions are presented as being of historical interest, but as soon as we try to articulate a vision of a different world, the question of Russia reappears. Is any attempt at a radical transformation of society doomed to reproduce the horrors of Stalinist repression?

War and Peace

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'No Man's Land', director Danis Tanovic

Sometimes you see an image so often that it becomes familiar and meaningless, and the scenes of wars we see on television are one example. During the civil war that consumed Yugoslavia in the 1990s, a television reporter would talk to camera in front of armoured personnel carriers full of UN peacekeepers, the sound of shelling going on behind them. But it does not take much to make an apparently familiar situation seem new.

Subscribe to RSS - Nicolai Gentchev