Sheila McGregor

Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason

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2017 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Volume 1 of Capital and David Harvey rightly wants to commemorate this with a reassertion of the importance of Marx’s writings on political economy and the insights they can provide in understanding the world in which we live. The title (taken from Marx) is apposite in foregrounding the economic madness of a world in which problems of hunger and shelter could be solved, but where property is about making money and the Earth’s environment is being destroyed.

Le Pen down but not out

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The French presidential run-off last month saw fascist Marine Le Pen roundly defeated, but the 10.6 million votes she won, plus the high level of spoiled ballots and abstention, suggest that the winning candidate, neoliberal Emmanuel Macron, is not a solution, writes Sheila McGregor.

There was great relief at the outcome of the French presidential run-off. For the second time in 15 years the election of a fascist president had been blocked. The main traditional parties, the Republicans and the Socialist Party, might have been excluded from the second round of voting, but as far as Europe’s rulers were concerned the election of Emmanuel Macron, a pro-EU economic and social liberal, by 66 percent to Marine Le Pen’s 34 percent had broken the rise of the “populist right”.

The Dilemmas of Lenin

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Writing about Lenin is a crowded field and inevitably controversial. This reflects the extraordinary role played by Lenin himself in the only socialist revolution thus far in the history of capitalism. Hated and demonised by Cold War historians, distorted and buried under the Stalinist rewriting of Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution, all writers who attempt to present what Lenin actually wrote, said and did are most welcome.

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.

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