Tony Phillips

Russia in Revolution

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Steve Smith has provided a useful overview of Russian history from the end of the 19th century to the 1920s centred, of course, on the dramatic events of 1917 and their aftermath.

He presents a panoramic view and yet includes a considerable amount of detail for a relatively short book.

Smith argues that the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were rooted in the clash between the growing pressure for modernisation of Russia society and the barrier represented by the Tsarist regime.

Hesitant Comrades

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Given that Ireland was officially part of the UK until 1922 and that many British unions organised in Ireland, not to mention that large numbers of Irish workers lived in Britain, you might assume that the struggle for independence was a major issue for the British labour movement of the day. In fact, as this book brings out, it was an embarrassment for the leaders of both the Labour Party and the trade unions.

Strikes stopped call-up

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There was an important omission in Chris Fuller’s fascinating piece on resistance to conscription during the First World War (“Forced to fight their war”, March SR). Chris concludes by stating that the government backed off from introducing conscription in Ireland “still stunned by the Easter Rising”. In fact it was mass resistance, crucially the general strike called by the Irish TUC, that forced Lloyd George to retreat.

1956: The World in Revolt

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1956 was a year of change across the world. The apparently stable international order imposed by the victorious powers at the end of the Second World War was challenged by a series of dramatic revolts. This book provides an excellent survey of the key events from Budapest to Cairo and Algiers to Montgomery, Alabama.

Author Simon Hall brings their impact home with lively and inspiring blow by blow accounts and portraits of key personalities such as Rosa Parks, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Imre Nagy.

Outsider in the White House

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This Socialist Senator’s campaign to be president shows that the appetite for a left wing alternative to establishment neoliberal politics is as strong in the US as it is in Britain, Greece and Spain.

Sanders has repeatedly managed to get elected as a democratic socialist, not for either the Democratic or Republican parties. His politics were shaped by participation in the civil rights and anti Vietnam war movements of the 1960s.

His hero is Eugene Debs, a socialist who ran for president from prison, having been jailed for opposing participation in the First World War.

Economics after Capitalism

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Any book which argues that “capitalism doesn’t work and alternatives are possible” should be welcomed by revolutionary socialists.

The author Derek Wall, a leading member of the left in the Green Party, surveys the various strands of anti-capitalism around the world and looks at how capitalism can be replaced.

Wall begins with insider critics of neoliberalism such as George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz rightly pointing out that “they act as a vaccine against the virus of anti-capitalist protest”.

Enemy on the Euphrates

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Imperial power lands troops near Basra. Imperial power seizes control of oil supplies. Imperial power brutally crushes opposition. Imperial power imposes puppet government based on one religious group. This was Iraq, then known as Mesopotamia, between 1914 and 1920.

This fascinating book describes these events culminating in the biggest anti-colonial revolt faced by Britain during the 20th century. Defeating the revolution was its biggest military action between 1918 and 1939.

Unity in action; Role of the individual

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Unity in action

Charlie Kimber's explanation of why immigration does not lower wages was excellent (Socialist Review, March 2014).

If immigrants are supposed to lower wages, then you would expect the offshoring of work overseas to do so as well. But my experience is that this also isn't the case.

In 2000 we were outsourced with the specific intention of moving the majority of our work to India, ie we were subcontracted and offshored, working for our previous employer as an account.

It was not looking good.

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