Barry Healy

Black Against Empire, the History & Politics of the Black Panther Party
Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr, University of California Press, 2013, 560 pp., $54.95

The United States in the 1960s was a tinderbox of unresolved racial tensions. With Jim Crow racism dominating the South and oppressive police patrolling the northern ghettos, Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Movement ignited hopes for change nation-wide.

The Managed Heart, Commercialization of Human Feeling
Arlie Russell Hochschild
University of California Press, 2012
339pp, $39.95

Forcing front line staff to engage at a “personal level” with customers has been an increasingly obnoxious part of low paid workers’ employment.

To obscure the all-pervasive low quality of the “food” and “services” that capitalism offers, what is sold now is the “experience” of social interaction. Key to the Happy Meal is the “happy sale”.

All That I Am, A Novel
By Anna Funder
Penguin 2011
370 pp, $29.95

Germany at the end of World War I entered a political and cultural maelstrom that tested the integrity of all its participants. This factually based narrative, or “open-source novel” as author Anna Funder calls it, brings to life some of those who committed their lives to trying to bring socialism to Germany and combat Hitler.

In Western Australia, mental illness is the second-highest cause of disease for women and the fourth-highest cause for men.

Premier Colin Barnett has responded by publishing a green paper for public discussion for a new Mental Health Act. The proposed act contains provisions that would improve the rights of people subjected to a Compulsory Treatment Order (CTO). But it negates those same provisions by allowing the treating psychiatrist to simply ignore them.

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.


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