Shaun Doherty

Materialism

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The thread linking Thomas Aquinas, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Nietzsche to Karl Marx may seem tenuous to many, but with typical verve and bravura and not a little waspish humour Eagleton has made these connections in his defence of materialism and critique of the metaphysical. In the preface he nails his colours to the mast of “unabashed universalism” which he hopes will scandalise “only those postmodern dogmatists for whom all universal claims are oppressive”.

Jeremy Corbyn comes out fighting

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Jeremy Corbyn’s keynote speech to the Labour Party conference was a defiant response to his critics in the parliamentary party who have been doing their best to undermine him since his re-election as leader at the start of the conference.

On education, arms sales, housing and especially on immigration, he offered a refreshingly radical agenda in complete contrast to that of his deputy and chief tormentor, Tom Watson, the previous day.

On Corbyn's side for the sake of the wider left

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Jeremy Corbyn

In the face of the Blairites' and the media's continuing vicious assault on Jeremy Corbyn, socialists - whether inside or outside the Labour Party - have a duty to stand up in defence of the principles on which he won the leadership contest

As the real war in Syria intensifies the metaphorical war on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party continues unabated. The offensive has been led by the now familiar alliance between the liberal media (The Guardian and The Observer) and members of the shadow cabinet and the Parliamentary Labour Party, with a dishonourable mention in dispatches for the BBC.

Corbyn the triumph and the challenge

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Jeremy Corbyn's crushing victory over the Blairites sent the Establishment reeling. We must organise to defend him and, even more importantly, the principles he was elected on, writes Shaun Doherty.

In politics as in life always expect the unexpected. Jeremy Corbyn’s astonishing and crushing victory in the Labour Party leadership contest was beyond everyone’s wildest dreams a few months ago. When I think of the local MP who, for most of my 40 years of teaching in Islington would cycle up and down the Holloway Road, the main artery of his constituency, supporting every strike and progressive campaign under the sun, I could barely have imagined his current elevation.

Strategies to defend our unions

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The Tories' election victory has provoked moves towards 'doing politics differently'. Shaun Doherty stresses how workers' confidence to fight back lies in industrial struggle.

In April 1974 I attended my first union meeting at a north London comprehensive school. The NUT rep, a member of the Communist Party, read out a request for support for a demonstration in work time protesting at the jailing of Ricky Tomlinson and Des Warren — the Shrewsbury Two building workers. More in hope than expectation I suggested we support it. To my surprise there was a near unanimous vote to take unofficial solidarity strike action in support of the demonstration. I thought, “Yes, this is what unions are about.”

Grangemouth: Another provocation

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A chorus of condemnation has greeted David Cameron's launch of an inquiry into trade union tactics in the wake of the Grangemouth affair.

Unite the Union has described it as a Tory election stunt and rightly called for a refusal to cooperate with it.

Frances O'Grady of the TUC said that it is "simply part of the Conservative Party's general election campaign" and even SNP leader Alex Salmond has suggested that it "was entirely about seeking electoral advantage". These responses are fine as far as they go.

The Provisional IRA

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Tommy McKearney

The most recent manifestation of the contradictions in Irish politics was the candidacy of Martin McGuinness for the presidency of the Irish Republic. McGuinness stood on a programme of opposition to the austerity measures in the South, while simultaneously implementing austerity measures in Northern Ireland. His journey from IRA commander to constitutional politician is indeed a compelling story, but this book promises a lot more than it delivers in attempting to explain it.

The task of the critic

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Terry Eagleton and Matthew Beaumont, Verso, £17.99

Subtitled Terry Eagleton in Dialogue, this book is the product of discussions with Eagleton during 2008 and 2009 with supplements from previously published interviews, and updates and revisions from Eagleton himself.

This format is fraught with danger - it can serve as an extended self-justification of the author's work or it can be clouded by an over-intrusive interviewer. In describing interviews as "careful fictions…ultimately the product of an artful edit", Matthew Beaumont has acknowledged the problem.

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