Books

The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg

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This year marks the 100th anniversary of the loss of the great German revolutionaries Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. They both died on the night of 15 January 1919, murdered in Berlin by right wing irregular soldiers known as the Freikorps.

Their deaths irrevocably altered the path of the German Revolution, which defeat in turn paved the way for the Nazis. Despite a number of investigations at the time and subsequently, nobody was ever convicted of the murders.

Permanent Revolution

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It’s hard to believe that something as stringent and unyielding as the English Reformation could lay the foundations of liberalism and the Enlightenment, but this is what James Simpson argues in his substantial and challenging new book.

The phrase “permanent revolution” is most commonly associated with Leon Trotsky owing to his book of the same name (The Permanent Revolution, 1929).

Betraying Big Brother

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Leta Hong Fincher begins with how the Chinese feminist conscience and mass call out against sexual harassment started a few years earlier than the #MeToo movement. In 2015 on the eve of International Women’s Day, the Chinese government arrested five women. Their “crime” was that they planned to hand out stickers against sexual harassment on subways and buses. The government charged them with picking quarrels, which could have led to five year prison sentences. They were released after 37 days due to the national and international #FreetheFive campaign.

The New Faces of Fascism

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Enzo Traverso notes in the opening of this book that, in 2018, eight countries of the EU have governments led by far right, nationalist and xenophobic parties. Add to this National Rally in France, the AfD in Germany, the presidency of Trump in the US and the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and the scope of problems posed by this development are far reaching. The question of the revival of fascism and the right is a real one.

Capitalism and Theory: Selected Writings of Michael Kidron

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When Michael Kidron began writing after the Second World War, socialists faced many new challenges. Yet very few heeded the revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s injunction to “face reality squarely”. Instead, most opted to repeat the old formulas. Kidron was part of the tiny Socialist Review Group around Tony Cliff, forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party, which had begun to develop an analysis to the new questions thrown up after the war.

Corbynism: a Critical Approach

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I was looking forward to a serious and objective critique of “Corbynism”, as this book promised. I was to be disappointed. The overriding message is that “Corbynism” promotes a “truncated” analysis of class society and, in doing so, simplifies the relationship between labour and value, and consequently the relationship of the capitalists and the workers.

The authors highlight two defining elements of Corbynism as problematic; the first being the “nationalist” nature of Corbyn’s manifesto — invest in British business, nationalisation of utilities and rail.

The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know

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The alt-right has attracted a lot of attention over the last couple of years, propelled into prominence by the Trump phenomenon in the US. It is best seen as part of the general resurgence of the far right in the US, across Europe, Brazil and elsewhere, but whereas much that has crawled out into the light of day is familiar, the alt-right is apparently something new.

In the Shadow of Enoch Powell

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Enoch Powell made his notorious Rivers of Blood speech in the Midland Hotel in Birmingham on 20 April, 1968. At the time he was the Conservative MP for the constituency of Wolverhampton South West. In her book In the Shadow of Enoch Powell Shirin Hirsch examines the impact of Powell’s speech in the Wolverhampton of 1968 and analyses its significance 50 years later. Hirsch draws on archival material as well as her own contemporary interviews.

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