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Swinging rebel back in vogue


ONCE AGAIN the 1960s are back in vogue - the music, the films and the imagery. Over the past few years a number of films from the period have been re-released - The Italian Job, Blow Up and Alfie. But there was a time in the 1960s before the swinging started. This period is brilliantly captured in a series of films made in the early 1960s labelled by critics as the "British new wave".

A band that puts Marxism to music


MANIC STREET Preachers have been one of the most controversial and political bands of the past decade. October sees the release of their "greatest hits" album, Forever Delayed. There is much that disappoints about the Manics these days. Their upcoming national tour is sponsored by Carling and the tickets are expensive. The band also seems to be keeping quiet over war on Iraq when other bands like Massive Attack and Blur support the anti-war movement.

Unmissable reprint


CHRIS HARMAN'S A People's History of the World has now been reprinted after it sold out. Leading US historian Howard Zinn said about A People's History of the World, "I have had many people ask me if there is a book which does for world history what my book A People's History of the United States does for this country.

Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows


Naomi Klein worked on her first book, No Logo, in the four years before the great anti-capitalist protests in Seattle. It was published just after and – according to the Guardian – sold 180,000 copies in Britain last year alone. Now she has a new book out. It is a collection of the various pieces of journalism she has written since No Logo propelled her to the forefront of the movement against capitalist globalisation.

Porno: a return ticket from Irvine Welsh


Ten years on, the characters from Trainspotting have returned, this time to make a porn movie. Irvine Welsh sets up a series of neatly timed coincidences to bring them back to Edinburgh along with a new character, the beautiful but bulimic student Nikki Fuller-Smith.

Mike Leigh's All or Nothing – no escape from desolation row


DON'T EXPECT much sunlight to filter into the cinema if you go and see Mike Leigh's new film, All or Nothing. The film is an almost relentlessly bleak portrayal of life on a run down estate. Phil, played by Timothy Spall, is a taxi driver who has sunk into deep depression. His common-law wife makes more money than him.

Freedom, struggle and constraint


TONY BENN'S political journey has been one of the most remarkable in the history of the British labour movement. Many figures have started out on the left, only to become dedicated defenders of capitalism by the time they have reached middle age.

Committed to radical theatre


JOAN LITTLEWOOD, who died at the age of 87 last month, was arguably the major figure of radical political theatre in Britain. She dedicated her life to the theatre, and entertaining and educating working class people.

A class apart


THE NEW edition of International Socialism offers a reply to all those who argue that the working class is dead. Chris Harman argues that the working class is bigger than it ever has been before on a global scale and that it continues to play the vital role in the struggle for a decent society.

Laughter, shouting and great music


SO MUCH Shouting, So Much Laughter is the new live album by US alternative folk singer Ani DiFranco. It is a great introduction to her music. Since her first album in 1990, she has toured almost constantly, building up a devoted following in the US and internationally. She is a fantastic live performer.

A very bitter sweet sixteen


SWEET SIXTEEN is the latest film by director Ken Loach. His films always focus on the struggles of working class people to survive when all the odds are stacked against them. This film is no exception. Liam's mum, Jean, is in prison but she will be released in time for his 16th birthday.

Mocking the boss


THE BBC comedy series The Office started a second series on Monday this week. Its huge success is a sign of the times. It is a brilliantly sustained assault on all the management bollocks about caring and sharing concern for employees. Every episode tears into myths about work being a partnership between workers and management where everyone is in the same boat.

Mapping out a path to peace


US AND Israeli politicians and commentators always blame the current violence in the Middle East on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. They claim that the Palestinians were getting the best deal possible in the peace process and they rejected it. The new edition of The End of the Peace Process, a collection of essays by the Palestinian writer Edward Said, exposes these claims for the lies they are. It shows that under the peace agreements the areas under Palestinian control would be small, cut off from one another and remain dominated by Israeli troops and settlers.

Bacardi leaves very bad taste


Bacardi is one of the most instantly recognisable brands in the world, but behind the sleek image lies a sinister side to this multinational. Hernando Calvo Ospina, a Colombian investigative journalist, demonstrates in his new book Bacardi: The Hidden War that Bacardi has prosecuted a clandestine war against Cuba in an effort to destabilise the Castro government.

Tijuana is live


Radio Bemba Sound System, the new live album by the anti-capitalist musician Manu Chao, captures the exuberant energy of his live shows. It makes it clear why he and his sound system have become a flagship for the movement. His music fuses influences from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and the US in a manic aural assault.

Refuge in friendship


The experience of refugees in British society has given rise to a number of plays in recent years. One of the best has been John Retallack's Hannah and Hanna, which is about to go on an extensive tour. Set in Margate, on the Kent coast, it follows the relationship between two teenage girls - one from the town itself, the other a refugee from Kosovo.

A moving film for Palestine


PALESTINE IS Still The Issue, the new film by the journalist John Pilger, is a rarity on TV. It is a painfully honest documentary that refuses to toe the established political line.

Many colours


IF YOU'VE spent the last two years planning to read Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth you can now take a shortcut. Channel 4 has turned the highly popular novel into a four-part series. It is about the way that people from different backgrounds mix in modern Britain.

Colour, contrast and our world


"EARTH FROM the Air" is an amazing outdoor exhibition of giant photographs that contrast the beauty of the world we live in to the terrible suffering all around us.

There's nowt so tuneful as folk


THE BAND Blue Murder brings together seven of the most influential voices in English folk music. Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson are joined by their daughter Eliza, Norma's brother Mike, and the trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson. The end result is a celebration of the human spirit. None of the songs on this CD are overtly political. There's a fair slab of religion, gospel-style, thrown in.

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