APOLOGISTS for Western capitalism have long sought to discredit the idea of socialism by pointing to the terror of Stalin's regime in Russia. It is now just over ten years since that system collapsed, but the message is the same-any attempt to build an alternative to capitalism is doomed to follow the path of the Soviet Union.
THE NEW film Minority Report is a provocative thriller about the authorities overstepping their boundaries to prosecute people simply for thinking about a crime. It is based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K Dick and directed by Steven Spielberg.
THE POET Shelley has inspired hundreds of books throughout the 180 or so years since he died. But Paul O'Brien's new book, Shelley and Revolutionary Ireland, finds a lot of new and very interesting things to say about Shelley and his fight against oppression. The book is about Shelley's two visits to Ireland in 1812.
THE HUGE protests against the G8 in Genoa last July were a major step forward for the anti-capitalist movement. Jonathan Neale's new book, You Are G8, We Are 6 Billion, captures the joy and the fear that the 300,000 people involved in the protests in Genoa felt.
THIS IS a moving photo of Carlo Giuliani, murdered by Italian police during last year's G8 Genoa protests. It was taken by socialist photographer Jess Hurd. It forms part of the new "Crisis" exhibition.
ARE YOU sick of the media and New Labour politicians poisoning the issue of race with claims of "swamping" and "isolationist" Muslims? Then read "Racism: Myths and Realities" by Hassan Mahamdallie, in the latest International Socialism. Racism is a very real problem today. The recent election successes of far right parties across Europe have worried millions of people. In Britain we have seen the election of three Nazi BNP councillors in Burnley.
SWEDISH BAND The (International) Noise Conspiracy say that "the sounds from the streets of Seattle, Prague, Quebec, Gothenburg and Genoa" are their main musical influences. In June 2001, during the recording of their new album A New Morning, Changing Weather, the band went to Gothenburg in Sweden.
HARLAN COUNTY War is a brilliant new film just out on video. It is drama based on the year-long strike of 180 miners in Kentucky in the US in 1973. The miners work long hours in dangerous conditions. The miners and their families live in small houses without running water.
FILMS BASED on comics are not always successful. But this summer's blockbuster, Spider-Man, is not at all bad. The original comic superheroes were Superman and Batman. Their adventures in the 1940s laid down rules that dominated the industry for the next 20 years.
THE SIEGE, by Helen Dunmore, is a novel set in the winter-long blockade of Leningrad in Russia by Nazi forces during the Second World War. It has just come out in paperback. It follows the story of a young woman, Anna. Her mother died in childbirth. Now Anna works in a nursery, and cares for her five year old brother and ageing father.
THE MEDIA claimed racism was over in Hollywood when Halle Berry won the Oscar for best actress for her role in Monster's Ball. But, just as in the film, the story isn't that simple. Monster's Ball is set in America's Deep South. It is presented as a film about racism. It sets out to portray racism, violence and also how the spiral of violence can be broken.
INDIA AND Pakistan teeter on the brink of all-out nuclear warfare. New Nukes by Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik charts the way Western governments poured arms and nuclear technology into the region. The book also explains how the governments of India and Pakistan squandered resources on warfare to the detriment of the mass of people. Kashmir is the flashpoint for this crisis.
WHEN I saw The No-Nonsense Guide to Class, Caste and Hierarchies I was excited about reading a book on class in the 21st century. However, this book disappoints.
"OURS IS a world of pain. I don't know how my co-workers survive on their wages or what they make of our hellish conditions. I do know about their back pains, cramps and arthritic attacks."
"LIBRARIES GAVE us power." The first line in the Manic Street Preachers' song "A Design For Life" expresses how important libraries have been to working class people over the decades. But a new report by the Audit Commission has revealed the desperate state of Britain's library services.
ARE THE interests of ordinary people at the heart of big business and government schemes? Are advances in science always good? Those are the key questions at the heart of the new BBC conspiracy thriller Fields of Gold, co-written by Ronan Bennett and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
There are a number of short stories and novels that shouldn't just be regarded as exceptional fantasy and science fiction, but should be considered amongst the best modern literature we have.
The second series of comedian Linda Smith's radio show A Brief History of Timewasting starts next week. It is a sitcom that takes a wry view of everyday life in London's East End.
THE MAJESTIC is about a Hollywood screenwriter who is blacklisted as part of an anti-Communist witch-hunt. It is set during the period of McCarthyism which gripped the US at the start of the Cold War.
GEORGE BUSH's plan to start a new nuclear arms race came a step closer last week. He and Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, did a deal that would allow the "Son of Star Wars" weapons system to be set up. This unity won't mean a more peaceful world.