Reviews

A new humanist politics?

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:02
mason

Paul Mason’s latest book, Clear Bright Future, is written as a defence of humanism and human-centred politics, against the resurgent threat of the far-right, from Trump to Bolsonaro, Le Pen to Salvini. The title is a reference to Leon Trotsky’s testament. Mason entreats us to fight “all evil, oppression, and violence”, and shares Trotsky’s optimism for the future.

A British counter-revolution

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/06/2019 - 10:26
thatcher

The current BBC2 documentary series Thatcher: A Very British Revolution is worth watching for the film footage — interviews with Thatcher, old news reports of events, and other rarer clips. Beyond that, it won’t tell you much more than Wikipedia does.

Most of the talking heads are Tory ex-MPs and civil servants who served under Thatcher. Also Bernard Ingham, Thatcher’s press secretary, who proves that reactionary pomposity does not fade with age.

Depths of denial

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 15/05/2019 - 10:28
holocaust denial

Keith Kahn Harris’s book sets out to be a short analysis on what drives a lot of conspiracy theories: denial.

People deny climate change, the effectiveness of vaccines, or the Holocaust. Kahn Harris explains succinctly where some of these conspiracies are driven from — helplessness in a world that leads the less informed to believing the conspiracy of someone with an alternative agenda. But the book is short in length and short on answers.

The Glorious Heresies

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:48
GH cover

Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies is a strong debut novel, which won her the Bailey’s Women’s Prize in 2016.

McInerney was already known for her blog, Arse End of Ireland, in which McInerney spoke about the impacts of the financial crash on Ireland’s poorest. The novel continues similar themes, focusing on those forced into the fringes of society in Cork.

Caring for the NHS

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:29
NHS demo

Mark Thomas’ show Check Up: Our NHS at 70 is a whistle-stop and funny tour of what is wrong with underfunding, short staffing and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In some ways this is Mark Thomas at his softest, and probably on a topic on which he is on very safe ground.

But the takeaway message is that inequality, low incomes, poor housing, cuts to social care and local authority services have all combined with the dismantling of the NHS to make the health outcomes for the poorest significantly worse.

Capital rules by exploitation not by nudging

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:33
web scraper

A review of Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power (Profile Books, 2019)

In 2014, a new toy hit the shops, My Friend Cayla. This doll was unlike other dolls: responding to its playmate’s voice; programmable with the names of family and pets; and, through its Bluetooth internet connection, giving spoken responses to questions.

The Good Soldier Schwejk

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:18
good soldier

Jill Mountford reviews The Good Soldier Schwejk (and His Fortunes in the World War) - written by Jaroslav Hasek, published 1923, adapted and directed by Christine Edzard, Sands Films, 2017. Currently being shown in Rotherhithe, London, and soon to be released on DVD.

Christine Edzard has made it her mission to revive interest in what was possibly the first satirical comedy about the absurdity of war. She adapted The Good Soldier Schwejk (sometimes spelt Svejk, pronounced Shvake) to mark the centenary of World War I.

Dangerous nonsense: Bower on Corbyn

Submitted by martin on Tue, 09/04/2019 - 18:48
books

Every Labour canvasser will have come across him (and, invariably, it is a he).

Leering out of his doorway he delivers a deranged tirade about how the country is going to the dogs. Communist-run trade unions. Moscow gold. Economy wrecked by strikes. Scroungers living off the dole. Better off than him, an honest hardworking man.

Of course, not a racist. But too many immigrants. Especially Muslims. Bogus asylum-seekers. Should stay in France. Got a council house instead of his daughter. Live off the state. He’s accused of racism for telling the truth. In his own country!

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