Spartacus (Revealing Antiquity) By Aldo Schiavone (translation by Jeremy Carden) Harvard University Press, 2013 208 pp., $29.95 Karl Marx was a great admirer of ancient Roman and Greek philosophers and leaders. However, there was one he singled out as the “finest fellow antiquity had to offer”: Spartacus, the Thracian who led the most significant slave revolt against the Roman empire. Marx was not the only member of the Spartacus fan club. German Communists led by Rosa Luxemburg named their party after him.
The death of Nelson Mandela on December 5 has focused attention once more on the global struggle against South Africa's aparthied regime. The heroic struggle of the Black population inside South Afica and the solidarity shown by ordinary people around the world was essential to winning Mandela's freedom and dismantling apartheid.
In early February 1978, on the strength of a claimed turnover of $1 billion, the Australian Financial Review reported that “at this sort of growth rate Nugan Hand will soon be bigger than BHP.”
The unity discussions between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative have come to an end. In a November 3 letter on behalf of the Socialist Alternative National Executive, Mick Armstrong wrote: “The overall political projects of both organisations are not sufficiently similar to carry through a sustained and productive unity that could advance the cause of the revolutionary left in Australia and the broader class struggle.” The Socialist Alternative letter lists four major political differences:
Conflict In The Unions: The Communist Party of Australia, Politics & the Trade Union Movement, 1945-60 By Douglas Jordan Resistance books, 2013 312 page, $30 Conflict In The Unions is an important new book examining the union activity of the Communist Party of Australia during a very turbulent time in Australian and world politics. The book looks at the period of 1945-'60, when the Cold War reached its height.
Undesirable: Captain Zuzenko & the Workers of Australia & the World By Kevin Windle Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013 274 pages, $39.95 (pb) On November 7, 1917, when the Winter Palace was stormed in Petrograd, sealing the victory of the Russian Revolution, Alexander Mikhailovich Zuzenko, one of the revolution’s most loyal servants, faced a local court in Ingham in northern Queensland. He was working on the canefields and was fined 10 shillings for losing his “aliens registration certificate”.
Of the six nations that reached a preliminary deal with Iran concerning its nuclear program, five ― the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China ― have nuclear arsenals. Atomic weapons were first developed by the US, the only country to have used them against large urban populations twice, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two war crimes killed hundreds of thousands of people. The hypocrisy is compounded by the fact that the strongest opponent of Iran in the Middle East is Israel, which has hundreds of fission and hydrogen bombs.
When Japanese forces occupied French Indochina in 1941, it was not entirely without French opposition. But for the most part it was close to business-as-usual for the French in Vietnam. Japan left the French colonial administration intact, beholden now to Tokyo rather than Paris. It was oppression-as-usual for the Vietnamese, 2 million of whom Japanese forces starved to death in 1944.
An important new work of labour history was launched on November 23 at the Melbourne Trades Hall. About 70 people heard author Douglas Jordan and Victoria University historian Phillip Deery mark the publication of Conflict in the Unions: The Communist Party of Australia, Politics and the Trade Union Movement, 1945-60.
World War II was fought to resist fascist aggression; the Vietnam War was an imperial war of aggression fought chiefly by France and the US, alongside allies that included Australia. The wars have been well documented, but rarely will you find an account of how they were instrumental in rejuvenating and then expanding the heroin trade.