Reviews

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.

Can the Working Class Change the World?

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Michael D Yates, author of Why Unions Matter (1998), dedicated most of his academic and professional career to studying labour and social movements in the US. Through his latest work, Yates contends that the working class must change the world or humanity will succumb to the barbarity of capitalism. His warning must be taken seriously because we live in a world prone to wars and global economic crises, among other evils.

Eugene V Debs

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The authors have tried to produce an accessible introduction to the life of the US’s most renowned socialist from the early 20th century.

The format of the book is very odd. Each chapter starts with a straight prose introduction to the following pages of graphics. The prose sequences are highly partisan written as they are (in part) by Steve Max, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Common People: an Anthology of Working Class Writers

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According to French writer and sociologist Didier Eribon, “If you write about the working class you have left it,” though he also said, “You can never escape your social class, even if you believe you have.” This anthology of memoirs, essays and poems by working class writers has a lot to say about that conundrum.

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.

I Will Never See the World Again

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I read this book of 19 essays by the prominent Turkish author, essayist and journalist, in one sitting. All the essays were smuggled out of his 9 x 4 metre cell, shared with two others in the Silivri prison about 200km from Istanbul.

I could not put it down, as I was drawn inside the mind and imagination of a 68 year old man who was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2016, following the attempted coup against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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).

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.

Karl Lagerfeld, 1933–2019

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“Those social networks, there’s something sad about them. It’s like a talkative mirror where people talk to themselves.” So Karl Lagerfeld told Women’s Wear Daily in 2014. When the designer died in February, there was an outpouring of grief on social media from across the fashion industry for the self-styled pope of fashion.

Lagerfeld was known to hold contemptuous views of the same world he profited from. And social media was key to the promotion of both his businesses and highly recognisable personal image.

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