Sheila McGregor

Flawed Capitalism

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I first met David Coates in the York branch of the International Socialists in September 1971. So it is with great sadness that I learned that he died on 7 August this year.

There are two sides to the way Coates presents capitalism as flawed: the impact that it has had on the mass of the populations in the UK and US, the two societies he analyses in the book, and flawed in the kind of capitalism under review. He believes that the rise of Trump and the populist right mean that we are at a turning point that needs to be seized by all progressives.

Age of Terror: Art since 9/11

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This exhibition of artists’ responses to conflict since the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001 ranges from sculpture to video installations.

It includes well known pieces such as Ai Weiwei’s marble surveillance camera on a plinth, Ivan Navarro’s “inverted columns” effect created with mirrors, as well as the vase Grayson Perry was working on as the terror attacks happened, which he proceeded to embellish with possible figures and comments possibly made by those caught up in the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

1917: War, Peace and Revolution

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By 1917 all sides in the First World War were at a stalemate. The Battle of the Somme had already led to huge casualties on all sides. By January 1917, having lost a million men either killed, wounded or captured, France needed to end the war. Similarly, Russia was on its knees, with 4.5 million killed, wounded or sick, food shortages and inflation.

Russia in Flames

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Engelstein’s contention in this detailed look at war during 1914-1921 in Russia is that “Lenin had replaced Nicolas”, the former Tsar. From the outset Lenin was allegedly opposed to Soviet rule and fundamentally undemocratic. He fomented rebellion from below to create the conditions in which his autocratic and authoritarian regime could come to power.

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.

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