Reviews

Cultural highlights of 2020

Issue section: 
Issue: 

2020 has been a tough year for the arts with cinemas and theatres closed and festivals and gigs cancelled. Despite this there has been an outpouring of creativity much of it inspired by the lockdown and Black Lives Matter. Socialist Review asked 10 of our readers and contributors to pick the culture they have most enjoyed under quarantine.

Schitt’s Creek - Netfliix

Revenge Capitalism

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Max Haiven’s central idea is that revenge is inherent to capitalism, particularly late capitalism, which he describes as a “vengeful tyrant”. While Marx and Engels recognise the legitimate vengeful violence of the working class against capitalism, they see no strategic advantage in the concept of revenge, he argues.

Island On Fire

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Jamaica was the main source of sugar in Britain’s food, drink and pantries for three centuries. Roughly 860,000 kidnapped Africans survived the middle passage between 1600 and 1807.

These slaves and their progeny laboured in fertile soils to sow, nurture, harvest and trim cane, then squeeze its sweet juices as muscovado into hogsheads bound for refineries in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. Planters themselves had to wait for the stuff to cross the Atlantic twice to put it on their fine dining tables.

The Anti-Capitalist Chronicles

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Marxist geographer David Harvey’s latest offering promises to be a ‘handbook for activists’ in the crisis-ridden landscape of 2020. Compiled from a series of podcasts, Harvey’s accessible use of Marxist concepts and language to investigate and categorise the intersecting crises of economic and environmental collapse is wide-ranging and promising.

As a theorist of neoliberalism he takes readers on a tour of the world and highlights the revolts of 2019, characterised as uprisings against neoliberalism and diminishing economic expectations.

Misbehaving

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of two important events in the struggle for women’s liberation: the first women’s liberation conference at Ruskin College, Oxford, and the disruption of the Miss World contest at Albert Hall.

Although the main focus of the book is the planning and disruption of the beauty contest, the ideas and demands of the women’s liberation movement (WLM) form the backdrop.

African Europeans: An Untold History

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

This is a must-read for anyone looking to develop a deeper understanding of European history. Most of us are aware that it has been whitewashed to some degree, but this book will definitely give you a whole new appreciation of history and how it relates to the modern day.

Whether you’re an expert historian or simply a curious leisure reader this book will bring you new priceless knowledge, while being an easy read.

Rentier Capitalism: Who owns the economy and who pays for it?

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Rentier Capitalism is an autopsy report for a decomposing corpse. Christophers clinically dissects a corrupted body, before arriving at a probable cause of death. Of course, capitalism is still with us, but for those wanting to understand the system more, the better and sooner to end it, this book is essential reading.

In the Autumn Statement, chancellor Rishi Sunak made it clear that working-class people will be expected to pay the financial as well as the health price for Covid-19. But, the real money is thriving.

Unworthy Republic

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

“The only reason why the negro has not been killed off, as the Indians have been, is that he is so close under your arm, that you cannot get at him.” So said Frederick Douglass, fugitive slave and anti-slavery campaigner.

Unworthy Republic is a timely reminder — following the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement — of the dispossession of Native Americans and how it relates to the enslavement of black Africans.

A culture of resistance

Issue section: 
Issue: 

The movement against the far right in the 1970s was made at gigs and on the street. Jo Holland reviews White Riot and Paul Holborow, tells the story of building the Anti Nazi League.

Just over 11 percent of film directors in the UK are women. Statistics around ethnicity are unreliable, but assuming that the majority of this tiny group are white, it is fitting and gratifying that Rubika Shah, director of seminal music documentary White Riot, is an Asian woman.

The film takes us back to the time in the 1970s when racists were being emboldened by Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, Eric Clapton was delivering his racist diatribe to a concert audience and the National Front were openly marching through the streets.

Pages