Books

Russia's Red Year

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2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This graphic novel is an accessible introduction to Russia’s “red year” and contributes to an important interpretation of the events.

Most importantly, it puts working class people as the agents of their own change and is sprinkled with small but significant funny events that bring to life how the revolution affected every aspect of the peoples’ lives.

China on Strike

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Anyone who is feeling a little demoralised and frustrated by the lack of strikes in the UK should add this book to their Christmas list, and then make sure they take some time out to read it.

Everyone knows about the booming Chinese economy, and many people know about the horrendous working conditions of those who have migrated from the countryside to the cities. There are two responses to alienating working conditions. One is the individual response which at best is walking out and at worst committing suicide.

Naija Marxisms

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Adam Mayer has rendered a great service to the workers’ movement in Nigeria and internationally. He shows that rather than being a foreign imposition, Marxism, a political guide to action, was very much part and parcel of the resistance to both colonial exploitation and to the predatory bourgeois classes that inherited power after independence.

Hag-Seed

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Margaret Atwood’s new novel is based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The main protagonist is Felix Phillips, former artistic director of the acclaimed Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, a kind of Canadian Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Long Depression

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Why has there has been no real recovery in the world economy since the crash of 2007?

After what is now almost a decade, still there has been no return to pre-crash levels of economic growth and profitability. Unable to explain this grim reality, mainstream economists and many so-called “financial experts” flounder and struggle to explain the economic world we live in today.

Red Ellen

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Laura Beers’ biography of Ellen Wilkinson, a prominent socialist in the early 20th century, is packed with detail. It is written in a lively style and gives a real sense of her as a person.

Ellen was born into a working class family in Manchester in 1891. She joined the Independent Labour Party at the age of 16. She was excited and inspired by the Russian Revolution and later had dual membership of the Labour Party and the Communist Party (which was permitted under Labour Party rules of the time).

In Defense of Housing

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David Madden and Peter Marcuse have successfully done three important things.

First, as the title suggests, they’ve made a clear case for housing to be higher up the mainstream political agenda. Second, they relate housing to wider theoretical debates, including Marxist analyses of its place in capitalist society. Third — and unusually for a book written by academics — they have given space to the many campaigns and activists challenging the neoliberal dominance of housing policy. As one housing campaigner said to me, “We needed this book”.

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