Sheila McGregor

Rethinking Revolution

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This collection of essays looks at revolution in the 21st century via the legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Individual contributions range from assessments of the left in Latin America and Greece to a survey of Marx and Engels’ views on the revolutionary party, the October Revolution itself and the Chinese Communist Party. However, there are some notable omissions, such as any analysis of the Arab revolutions in 2011.

The Lower Depths

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This play, written by Maxim Gorky in 1902, was widely produced across Europe and made Gorky’s reputation as the father of socialist realist writing.

Gorky experienced the vicissitudes of life. He lost his father at five years old and ended up living in his grandfather’s house where everyone was “choked by a fog of mutual hostility”. After his mother died he was kicked out and left to fend for himself aged eleven. He spent five years wandering across Russia.

Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach

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“If you say how the world is, that should be enough”, says Ken Loach at the start of this documentary, adding that “politics is essential”. His is a kind of politics which wants to show how working class people live, find their humanity and resist.

This is exemplified in films such as Kes (1969), which demonstrates how a young working class boy is able to develop his own unique personality through his relationship with a kestrel.

Clara Zetkin: Letters and Writings

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Clara Zetkin’s life saw some of the most momentous events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She was a leading member of the German Socialist Party until the outbreak of the First World War.

She fought politically alongside Rosa Luxemburg — a close friend — and Karl Liebknecht, breaking with the German Socialist Party to found the Spartakus League and then the German Communist Party.

Spotlight

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It’s not that we aren’t aware of scandals and cover-ups around paedophilia and the Catholic church. And in Britain the Jimmy Savile scandal demonstrated that it isn’t only the Catholic church which is involved in the institutionalised covering-up of child abuse.

The film Spotlight isn’t simply telling the story of yet more poor, working class children being abused by Catholic priests in Boston over a period of 30 or 40 years, although that itself would justify the telling of it.

Frantz Fanon

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The publication of Peter Hudis’s political biography of Frantz Fanon coincides with a resurgence of interest in Fanon’s ideas. Hudis is concerned to restore Fanon as a revolutionary who should be read carefully in historical context.

Fanon grew up in Martinique, a French colony, but his first real experience of racism came in the French army in North Africa during the Second World War. Based as a psychiatrist in Blida, Algeria, Fanon both sheltered and treated militants from the National Liberation Movement (FLN), before moving to Tunisia where he became their spokesman abroad.

Marxist feminism: A question of class

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Can Marxism shape feminism? And if so, what kind of Marxism and what kind of feminism? A 500-strong conference in Berlin provided some answers but left some questions open, writes Sheila McGregor

Along with the rise of the “new feminism” has come a resurgence of interest in Marxist feminism and materialist approaches to the question of women’s oppression. The publication of new books, such as the collection of essays Marxism and Feminism (ed Shahrzad Mojab), and the re-publication of old ones by socialist and Marxist feminists like Lise Vogel and Michele Barrett are signs of this.

Assia Djebar (1936 - 2015)

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 Assia Djebar

Assia Djebar, one of Algeria's most gifted writers, died on 6 February. Sheila McGregor celebrates her life and her part in the struggle for independence.

Born as Fatima-Zohra Imalayène in Cherchell in 1936, Assia Djebar took her pen name to save her parents from embarrassment when she wrote her first novel, La Soif (Thirst).

Concerning Violence

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Concerning Violence is a new film by Göran Hugo Olsson, (director of The Black Power Mixtape), based on Frantz Fanon’s classic book The Wretched of the Earth. It is illustrated with archival film of colonial realities and national liberation struggles taken from the vaults of Swedish Television.

The film is divided into nine sections ranging from footage of guerilla warfare in Mozambique to the pillaging of natural resources from former colonies. The film footage is superb.

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