Invent the Future

"We must dare to invent the future" - Thomas Sankara

A version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 7 August 2019. George Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’ is, for many, the defining account of the Spanish Civil War. Although it took up the ideological perspective of just one of the many different factions that participated in that war, and although Orwell’s personal experience of the action was limited to a short stint on a quiet front, ‘Homage to Catalonia’ has been reissued dozens of times and is on school and university curricula throughout the western world. Orwell’s perspective made its way even further into the popular consciousness […]

A version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 19 July 2019. ‘Crippled’ is a well-written, thoroughly-researched and harrowing account of how austerity – and the classist, ableist ideology that accompanies it – has impacted millions of disabled people. It is, in the words of Rob Delaney, “a ferocious, thoroughly substantiated indictment of this government’s maltreatment of its disabled children, women and men.” Frances Ryan provides comprehensive statistical evidence demonstrating that disabled people have been disastrously and disproportionately affected by the last decade of public spending cuts. This evidence is very effectively combined with interviews and case […]

A slightly modified version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 25 June 2019. The first volume of Samir Amin’s memoirs, A Life Looking Forward: Memoirs of an Independent Marxist, was first published over a decade ago, in 2006. It dealt primarily with his early life and the experiences that contributed to his intellectual formation and the major ideas with which he is associated: the critique of Eurocentrism; the notion of the ‘long transition to socialism’; and his insistence on ‘delinking’ from the imperialist triad of the US, Europe and Japan. This second (and final) instalment, published […]

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 15 April 2019. In the popular imagination, the German Democratic Republic is indelibly linked with ideas of authoritarianism, poverty, secret police, stuffy bureaucracy and a generalised absence of democracy. Victor Grossman is uniquely well placed to challenge this McCartheyite narrative. Born in New York in 1928, he joined the Communist Party while studying at Harvard in the late 1940s. He was drafted into the army and, while stationed in Austria, defected to the GDR. Marrying a German woman, studying and working, raising children and grandchildren, he lived in East Germany until […]

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 25 March 2019. John Lister’s well-written and scrupulously researched book is a crucial weapon in the defence of the NHS. It advances a rigorous explanation of the economic theory behind the private finance initiative (PFI), its putative benefits and the reality of its implementation in the NHS over the last quarter-century, drawing on the specific experience of the Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals in Yorkshire built as part of a £311 million deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Championed by Tory chancellor Norman Lamont, the concept of PFI originally surfaced in […]

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 23 August 2018. ALGIERS, Third World Capital is a fascinating, vibrant, endearing and engaging memoir, providing fresh insight into some important episodes of the second half of the 20th century. Elaine Mokhtefi, a white North American woman of Jewish heritage, became involved in politics at university, becoming an activist in the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), an organisation committed to global government and world peace. Moving to Paris in the 1950s, she was introduced to the Algerian liberation struggle via the emigre Algerian population in that city. An interpreter and organiser […]

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 24 May 2018. Kingslee Daley — more often known as Akala — is earning a reputation as one of Britain’s most important voices. On top of touring the world, releasing hip-hop albums, making documentaries for the BBC, campaigning on a range of issues, appearing on Question Time and running the Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, he has just published his first book. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire is at once a memoir, a detailed sociological investigation of racism and a whistle-stop tour of global politics from London to Beijing, […]