Books

Socialism...Seriously

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This is a very useful little book which comes in a highly attractive format, especially because it aspires to blend serious revolutionary ideas in a playful soup of self-deprecating humour and light-heartedness. In this way it provides an exceptionally unintimidating entry into an international socialist worldview. Capitalism, Katch notes, “is destructive and inhumane, but it’s also silly, and mocking its absurdities reminds us that a system this dumb can’t possibly be indestructible”.

White Working Class Voices

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The words “white working class” should set alarm bells ringing for most socialists. Rarely has a seemingly descriptive term become so loaded. As Harris Beider laments, it’s become as if the only way class can be acknowledged in the media is when it’s made about race. We’re all middle class now unless we’re white and we’re victims — left behind, crowded out or swamped by multiculturalism. We don’t need political representation, unless it’s racist UKIP or the fascist BNP. It’s a noxious, racist trope and Beider rightly takes aim at it.

The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith

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Stevie Smith is best known for her poem “Not Waving but Drowning”. The metaphor in the title serves as a guide to much of her poetry:

I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

It is a theme that recurs in her poetry. For instance, in “The Reason” she states:

My life is vile
I hate it so
I’ll wait a while
And then I’ll go.

Rethinking Education

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This is a timely and incredibly useful new publication. With the fight now on to defend all our schools from wholesale privatisation we need the ideas in this book to consider what is wrong with the “exam factory” model of education, what the alternative would look like and why it is worth fighting for.

Schools Out!

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When I was 14 I managed my first, rather comic act of political rebellion. Partly inspired by Ken Loach’s film Cathy Come Home, I chalked “Long live the proletariat” on the blackboard at Crewe Boys’ Grammar. Our RE teacher, the Reverend Geddes, wandered in, inspected it and, humiliatingly, corrected my spelling before getting on with the lesson.

Schools Out! tells an altogether more inspiring tale of rebellion, politics and youthful fire.

America's Addiction to Terrorism

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A US survey in April last year found that 58 percent of Americans believe that torture under certain circumstances can be justified. Henry Giroux is rightly horrified. He argues that a combination of neoliberal capitalism, the rise of state terrorism following 9/11 and advances in internet and smartphone technology have brought about an unprecedented crisis in US culture, with frightening consequences. And although Giroux can be accused of exaggeration, much of his argument not only rings true, but has significant implications for Europe and the UK.

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.

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