The Spirit of ’45 was a movie centred around the political atmosphere in Britain after World War Two. With the victory over Hitler, British workers felt empowered, and felt they deserved more than the poverty of old Britain. They chose to kick out Churchill and elect Labour for the first time and implemented its radical policies of full employment, free healthcare, good council housing, better health and safety and free education. [Read more...]
BOOK REVIEW: Brian S. Roper, The History of Democracy: a Marxist Interpretation (Pluto Press, 2012)
British historian Geoffrey Ste Croix described the struggle for political control over the state as “class struggle on the political plane”. It is a neat formulation that Brian S. Roper effectively deploys to explain the history of Western democracy.
In one short book, he traces the rise and decline of Athenian participatory democracy and the Roman Republic; the rise of capitalism and the breakthroughs of the English, US and French revolutions; the European revolutions of 1848; the revival of participatory democracy in the Paris Commune and the Russian revolutions; and globalisation and the triumph of liberal democracy. He then provides a Marxist critique of the last. [Read more...]
We first encounter Philip Josephs, subject of Jared Davidson’s engrossing, lovingly-written, richly detailed and passionately political new book Sewing Freedom, as he addresses Wellington’s 1906 May Day demonstration: “This meeting sends its fraternal greetings to our comrades engaged in the universal class war, and pledges itself to work for the abolition of the capitalistic system and the substitution in New Zealand of a co-operative commonwealth, founded on the collective ownership of the land and the means of production and distribution.” This motion, for Davidson, captures the essence of Joseph’s anarchism – it was based in “internationalism, class struggle, and free communism.” [Read more...]
This is a wonderful exhibition, and is bound to fascinate every left-wing person interested in art and design, or just curious to see some of the history of the many social and political struggles from the past decades in Wellington.
Some of the work and originality that the work building activist campaigns demands – in designing leaflets, getting out posters, thinking up slogans and songs – gives us just a little glimpse of the enormous wasted creativity of working people, creativity too often smothered or ignored in jobs where people are just ‘human resources’ towards profits.
“Every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated. Both of my parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. And it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits its crimes against the Palestinians.”
It is a tragedy to be born out of your time, when keeping faith with your past means breaking radically with the present. This documentary about radical Jewish American academic Norman Finkelstein is more gripping and tragic than any documentary about an academic should be.
The book follows the life of a young man, Harrison Shephard, who finds himself living between the worlds of his Mexican mother and American father. He attends high school in New York during the great depression and the Bonus Army riots, and describes the desperation and anger which filled the streets during those days. He returns to Mexico to serve in the home of Mexico’s most famous artists and communists – Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo. Eventually, the household grows to include those homeless revolutionaries-in-exile, Natalia Sedova & Lev Bronstein - better known as Leon Trotsky.
Songs from the Inside is a brilliant documentary series currently on Maori TV about four musicians coaching inmates at Arohata and Rimutaka to write their own songs.
The documentary is a welcome antidote to “reality TV”. Both the producer Maramena Roderick and director Julian Arahanga are very aware that they do not want to create a prison version of Idol.