Barry Healy

The Marx Dictionary
By Ian Fraser & Lawrence Wilde
Continuum, 2011
223 pp., $39.99

“A is for Alienation, that made me the man that I am, and B's for the Boss who's a Bastard, a Bourgeois who don't give a damn.” So goes Scottish folk singer Alex Glasgow’s witty song, “The Socialist ABC”, which is a succinct introduction to Marxism.

However, for a slightly more rounded alphabetical introduction this volume is very good. In it the authors manage to condense quite readable explanations of some of the Western intellectual tradition’s most challenging concepts.

Soldaten, On Fighting, Killing & Dying: The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs
By Sonke Neitzel & Harald Welzer
Scribe Publications, 2012
448pp, $22.99

Our Harsh Logic, Israeli Soldiers Testimonies from the Occupies Territories, 2000-2010
Compiled by Breaking the Silence
Scribe Publications, 2012
400pp, $22.99

There is unmitigated evil in both these books ― cruelty, violence, criminal’s countries. The fact that the awful truth comes out of the mouths of the perpetrators makes it all the more shocking.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a federal royal commission into child abuse in Australian institutions on November 12. The announcement came after growing scandals about paedophilia within the Catholic Church had reached the point where it was politically untenable for the government to continue with inaction.

Pages From a Black Radical’s Notebook: A James Boggs Reader
Edited by Stephen M. Ward, Wayne
State University Press, 2011
401 pp, $US27.95

The Italian Marxist leader Antonio Gramsci coined the term “organic intellectual” to describe workers who educated themselves in advanced economic and social theory. Such people are essential to the task of the working-class understanding its historical role in changing society, he believed.

Warhol to Picasso: Fourteen Modern Artists
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Until December 3

This exhibition brings together 120 of some of the 20th century’s most important art works that catalogue some critical attempts to break through the bourgeois encirclement of human existence and point towards liberation.

Using Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and American Andy Warhol as the convenient gateposts, it allows us to read the rise and fall of the century’s revolutionary sentiment.

Fanaticism, On the Uses of an Idea
Alberto Toscano, Verso 2010
269 pages, $43.00

Review by Barry Healy

“Nothing great has been accomplished in history without fanaticism,” Leon Trotsky wrote in 1938. Certainly, the great turning points in human history, such as the Anabaptist peasant revolt in Central Europe or the Russian Revolution, required their participants to set aside their normal dispositions and assume a single-minded dedication to a cause greater than the self.

Love & Capital: Karl & Jenny Marx & the Birth of a Revolution
By Mary Gabriel,
Little, Brown & Company 2011
707 pages, $39.99

The spectre of Karl Marx still haunts the capitalist world. Only 11 people attended his funeral in 1883 and the corporate press still loves to dance on his grave, constantly declaring that his ideas are irrelevant. Yet with every economic crisis all eyes return to Marx's masterpiece, Capital, to understand what is really going on in our economic system.

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited & translated by John Riddell,
Brill, 2012, 1310 pp.

Many leftists have spent dreary evenings meeting in draughty community halls where the reading of the minutes of previous gatherings seems to drag on interminably. Refreshingly, for a variety of reasons, this 1200-page compendium of 90-year-old proceedings makes for revitalising and pertinent reading.

Snow White & the Huntsman
Directed by Rupert Sanders
Staring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth
In cinemas now

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most derivative of them all? I suppose to even ask that of a Hollywood movie is foolish.

Hollywood thrives on figuring what has previously interested the audience and recycling it through its cultural mashing machine to produce what it knows best: schlock.

Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant
By Joe Bageant
Scribe Publications, 2011
$32.95, 298 pp.

Joe Bageant was a feature on many United States left-wing websites, such as Counterpunch, over the years. His writing is witty, outrageous and with a penetratingly cynical view of working-class American life.

Bageant, who died last year, came from a depressed, working-class community in Winchester, Virginia, and never lost his love/hate relationship with the people he knew so well there.


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