Monday, April 08, 2013

Book and film reviews for “The Socialist”

I was once a full-time employee of The Socialist – weekly paper of the UK Socialist Party. I was privileged to work with Ted Grant, Keith Dickenson, Peter Taaffe, Roger Silverman, Clair Doyle, the brilliant cartoonist Alan Hardman, Dave Galashan and Pete Jarvis. I attended Editorial Board meetings although I was a “technical” full-timer, not a political one.
I could write volumes about my work there. I will however pay tribute to just two people. Ted Grant was responsible for converting many people to the ideas of socialism. Born in South Africa, he still had a trace of a South African accent. Whenever I hear that accent I am reminded of Ted. He had devoted his life to socialism since before the war. He contributed to Socialist Appeal, Socialist Fight and The Militant (which was the name of The Socialist when I started work there). He was also quite an infuriating person to work with because he had a painstaking approach to his articles and tested deadlines to destruction.
Peter Taaffe is a left-wing activist from Liverpool and devotee of Everton football club. I first met him on a train to a Young Socialist conference. At that time he was the only person working for the paper full-time. When Ted Grant ignored the signs in the British Labour Party (the expulsion of socialists and the adoption of privatisation, inequality and war as items of policy) Peter Taaffe had to lead the fledgling Socialist Party. I still remember how he wore his voice out addressing meetings. After having a sore throat for a long time he attended a doctor who told him he had chronic pharyngitis. He came back to the office amused at this diagnosis because pharyngitis means “a sore throat” and chronic means “for a long time”!

I still write reviews of books and films for The Socialist. My friends assume that I am writing for “the” only remaining Socialist in the world but things are not that bad. I also write for Socialism Today which is a monthly journal. Some have suggested “Socialism Tomorrow” or “Socialism the day after” but we shall see.

During the banking crisis, the BBC broadcaster, Sarah Kennedy, joked that “The TUC have a demonstration against capitalism this weekend. They are bringing it forward because capitalism may not last that long.” Yet capitalism did survive the banking crisis and every family in the land knows how it survived. It survived at our expense. Bankers still get million pound bonuses (I always think six months in prison would do them more good) and we get cuts in wages, pensions and social services.

Perhaps it is those who believe in capitalism who are living in cloud cuckoo land.

I have collected some of my reviews. The most recent is a review of Parliamentary Socialism entitled "Miliband on Miliband". The earliest is a review of Life on the Screen by Sherry Turkle which is simply the most fascinating insight into the strange world of cyberspace that I have ever come across.

I review things which move or interest me.That is the advantage of freelance writing.

Table of Contents
Miliband on Miliband
Les Miserables 2012
The Apprentice final
Fahrenheit 9/11
Remember me Rescue me
The Exception to the Rulers
The Media in Question
A Child called 'It'
The Root of All Evil
Battleship Potemkin
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
The Chatterley Affair
V for Vendetta
Forget you had a daughter
Two lives
Life on the Screen
Ideological dimensions of Taxi Driver
The Iron Lady in meltdown
Various Pets Alive and Dead

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