Reviews

The Racket

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“A class war is being fought and the poor are losing.” Any book that acknowledges this harsh reality is worth a look.

The author, a former Financial Times journalist, goes on to write about how the “countervailing powers, such as strong organised labor groups, that previously had some check on business power have been eroded and fractured” and how today big business can, “like never before, write laws, weaken and destroy labor rights and the environment and control the media”. “The Racket”, as he calls it, is, at least for the moment, calling the shots.

The Senility of Vladimir P

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This page-turning, vodka-sodden, tragi-comic crime thriller about political corruption and moral predicaments is a brilliant holiday read.

It’s set in the future: Russia has been taken over by a new generation of despotic oligarchs, dissent is suppressed and former Russian president Vladimir P, now in an advanced stage of dementia, has been hived off to his luxury dacha near Moscow.

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.

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”.

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.

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