Spring Into Action

Spring Into Action

The Oxford Handbook of The History of Communism is as comprehensive as it is challenging. Communism sparked a counter all of its own making 'anti-communism' which is carefully dissected by the latest edition of the journal Twentieth Century Communism. French revolutionary of the '68 vintage, Daniel Bensaid's excellent memoir The British Left and Zionism carefully chronicles a changing position on Israel and Palestine that he describes as a 'history of a divorce'. There is also the welcome appearance of contemporary writings against the First World War, Not Our War.

The new and updated edition of Seumas Milne's account of the 1984-85 Miners Strke, The Enemy Within provides an example of how the past continues to haunt the present. Richard Seymour is a writer unafraid to confront the contours of such a defeat while at the same time providing the kind of deep-rooted analysis to map out an alternative. His latest book is Against Austerity. Benjamin Kunkel's Utopia or Bust is a handy survey of Left wing analysis of the financial crisis. A similar dose of well-reasoned thinking is provided by the regular instalments of the After Neoliberalism Manifesto available free online. The latest contribution is States of Imagination. An unashamedly theoretical account of neoliberal culture is provided by a special edition of the journal New Formations. The best single effort to understand the UKiP phenomenon has been provided by Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin in their sublime book Revolt on the Right.

At the core of UKiP's message is a discourse of race and nation. Darcus Howe : A Political Biography via personal testimony revisits a history of migration, self-organisaton and resistance. Arun Kundnani's The Muslims are Coming! links together the experience of Islamophobia and the ongoing Global impact of the West's so-called 'War on Terror'. John Hutnyk's Pantomime Terror imaginatively records how popular culture has been affected by a post 9/11 world. The urgent necessity for this kind of engagement is established brilliantly by Andrew Hussey's new book The French Intifada.

To develop both an understanding of UKiP's success and any kind of meaningful opposition requires an engagement with the meaning of Englishness. Wade Matthews records such a project in his magnificent The New Left, National Identity and the Break-up of Britain. The1956 New Left generation was formed politically in large measure by the anti-fascist Popular Front experience of World War Two. A period depicted in Peter Conradi's A Very English Hero.This is a very different version of the Anglo-martial tradition we are more used to. The potential for such a rupture with this and other components of a more traditional Englishness is explored in Michael Kenny's book The Politics of English Nationhood.

Gerry Hassan's new book Caledonian Dreaming combines both a rare realism about the reality of the mythology of Scottish social-democracy with a vision for how the best of those traditions can be shaped by the new Scotland. James Foley and Pete Rennard provide a more polemical broadside in their book Yes.

Three recent books in their different ways bear witness to the scope of an ambition of a renewed political culture. JP Bean's Singing from the Floorcaptures the explosion in popularity, of British Folk music. Going further back in history,

Bohemiansby Paul Buhle and David Berger is presented in a bright and accessible format, a graphic history. A very modern interpretation of the political-cultural fusion is provided by Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins. A book that embraces the joy, for men and women, of dressing up while deconstructing the industry, working conditions and rip-off merchants behind such pleasures.

A new political imaginary must surely draw on the resources provided by fiction, the novel. Jonathan Lethem's best-selling Dissident Gardens is about fighting for what is right in the harshest of conditions, McCarthyite-era America. Hitler's Girls by Emma Tennant and Hilary Bailey is a more extreme example of how the novel can challenge and extend, our political imagination. A complicated plot moulded by Nazi Germany, the aftermath of WW2 and modern-day hate criminals.

In the search for the potential to remake the political there is no better starting point than the modern women's liberation movement, sometimes now referred to as fifth wave feminism. There are few rivals to the ionic Pussy Riot for their ability to shake up the humdrum. Masha Gessen's Words Will Break Cement retells their story..Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates is testament to the sheer diversity of feminism's content and action.

The book of the quarter? A book that reinforces the enduring vitality of feminism, while connecting to the vital need for hope in an era of popular despair and widespread disaffection . Beatrix Campbell's pocket manifesto End of Equality is a well-aimed polemic against a neoliberal order that is founded on patriarchy, wilfully allows sexual discrimination to flourish and cannot be understood, resisted or changed without a central commitment to gender equality . Nothing short of a new revolution, what a way to welcome the start of summer.

NoteNo links in this book review are to Amazon. If you can avoid buying from the tax-dodgers, please do so.

Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled 'sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction', aka Philosophy Football.

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