Invent the Future

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

A version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star. Verso’s latest offering on China is a concise and thought-provoking overview of nearly two centuries of Chinese revolutionary movements, written by respected historian Rebecca Karl. Starting with the Taiping Rebellion (from 1850), the book goes on to discuss the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the establishment of the Republic of China (1912), the May Fourth Movement (1919 onwards), the rises and falls of the United Front between the Communist Party and the Guomindang, the founding of the People’s Republic (1949), the Cultural Revolution, and the reform period (1978 onwards). […]

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 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 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 […]

A slightly modified version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 05 May 2018 (the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth). Sven-Eric Liedman’s new biography of Karl Marx aims to provide the reader with a nuanced and detailed account of the intellectual giant’s life and thought. Beyond the biographical outline and the coverage of the best-known aspects of Marx’s work (Capital, and The Communist Manifesto), Liedman also gives a fairly detailed description of Marx’s explorations in philosophy and the trajectory of his theoretical ideas. This, along with an examination of the intellectual relationship between Marx and Engels and […]

A slightly modified version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 03 March 2018. Simon Hannah’s recently-released book ‘A Party with Socialists in it: a History of the Labour Left’ provides a timely, concise and very readable account of the ongoing struggle between left and right within Labour. The title is inspired by Tony Benn’s comment that “the Labour Party has never been a socialist party, although there have always been socialists in it”, and the text charts the attempts of those socialists to promote their vision over the course of the past 118 years. This fight […]

A slightly modified version of this article first appeared in the Morning Star on 15 February 2018. Clairview Books RRP £10.99 This short book by British academic TJ Coles will perhaps not receive as much attention as another recently-released text that shares its name. It is, nonetheless, an important and insightful book, providing an alternative viewpoint on the escalating crisis over Korea, and promoting an urgent message of peace. The primary aim of the book is to dismantle the idea that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a serious danger to regional and global stability; that it’s an […]

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on 19 July 2017. In this compact book of just over 200 pages, Geoffrey Swain does a surprisingly good job of presenting a historical overview of the October Revolution – the defining event of the 20th century, the centenary of which we celebrate this year. The writing is necessarily dense, but not to the point of impenetrability, and most readers will find something of value here, although many Morning Star readers will undoubtedly find some things to disagree with. Swain offers two key ideas that are relatively controversial in terms of mainstream […]

This is a slightly expanded version of an article that appeared in the Morning Star on 15 May 2017. Given the number of biographies of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara that have been published in the 50 years since his assassination, many authors would probably struggle to find anything original to write about. Che’s youngest brother Juan Martín Guevara, however, is able to offer an unparalleled insight into the family life, background, influences and early experiences that helped to form the legendary revolutionary. Such is the stated purpose of the book: to take Che down from the cross; ”to get people to […]