The Fight by Norman Mailer book review.

LeftCentral Book review © all rights reserved.

Image © Susan

“Ali even motivates the dead”. (Don King)

On the 26 March 1974 in Venezuela, George Foreman defended his heavyweight title against Ken Norton. Muhammad Ali sat ringside with commentator Bob Sheridan; even as a non-combatant, Ali dominated the event. Ali greater than the sport itself, given the role he played in reviving boxing. Nevertheless, through years of exile, after his refusal to fight in South-East Asia, Ali received little thanks; the boxing establishment froze him out.  His own sense of justice always acute, as his response as a youth, living in Louisville, to the murder Emmett Till in Mississippi (1955) indicates.  A name change and subsequent religious conversion followed, built on an outlook shaped by Marcus Garvey, a philosophical interest emanating from his father, Cassius, Sr.  And it would be back in Africa, 40 years ago, that Ali would remedy a personal injustice with universal relevance.  Read more of this post

Academic Teaching, by Maja Elmgren and Ann-Sofie Henriksson – Book Review

Lincoln Green

Image © Kobebigs

Elmgren and Henriksson’s book, translated from Swedish, provides the reader with an extremely broad overview of key concepts in the theory and practice of education.  Although directed towards teachers in Higher Education it will prove of great relevance to all those involved in post-compulsory education.  The rapid development of HE courses in Further Education colleges through a franchising arrangement or involvement in a Consortium, with new teachers required to develop higher level knowledge, skills and approaches in their students will make this book a particularly relevant vocational tool.

The broad sweep of the book’s content is for the most part rooted in research and the reader is directed towards original source material in texts and journals.  The authors acknowledge however that teachers often ignore evidence based practice, even in an environment where specialist research is a primary function of the organisation.  Those working in the sector would perhaps claim workload as a constraint against wider reading and extended professional development.  This is unfortunate as the book contains much inspirational material which the reader will wish to explore further.  Read more of this post

Karl J Trybus @The Central: Exclusive extract from recent publication.

Karl J Trybus @The Central

The Rosary, the Republic, and the Right: Spain and the Vatican Hierarchy, 1931-1939 works to establish a nuanced view of the actions of the Vatican hierarchy in relation to Spain’s tumultuous Second Republican and Civil War periods.  With the assistance of Secret Vatican Archival materials, this work aims to highlight the differences between the publicly understood goals of the Spanish Catholic hierarchy—which wanted the Republic to fall and conservatives to control the Spanish state, from the Vatican hierarchy—which faced severe pressures from a variety of actors.  Internal Vatican materials show the complexity of the relationships between the Holy See and the Republican and Rebel governments at various points through this period.  Private communications amongst Church and State representatives help to highlight the awkward and often problematic position facing the Vatican hierarchy in relationship to Spain.  The Holy See did try to find possible solutions during the turmoil, but it was the Spanish Right that rejected peace and reminded the Holy See of the imaginary crusade launched against an invented dangerous atheistic horde.  In the end, the Vatican remained publicly silent, but pressures placed upon its leadership by outside sources forced the Church’s hand more than many might have previously understood.

The following extract is from Chapter 8 “Bombings and Civilians: Rebel Rejection of Mediation.” In this chapter, Vatican sources are used to highlight the private lines of communication used by the Holy See to see if any form of a negotiated peace settlement or even brief truce could be established in late 1938, as the Republican cause seemed doomed.  As this portion shows, the Holy See did attempt to end some bloodshed, but even the Vatican hierarchy understood that any power to stop this violence rested solely in the hands of the Rebels—and they did not want peace.  Read more of this post

Aitana Guia@the Central: Exclusive sample of her most recent publication.

Aitana Guia@the Central 

The Muslim Struggle for Civil Rights in Spain: Promoting Democracy through Migrant Engagement, 1985–2010 demonstrates that a key factor left out of studies on the Spanish transition to democracy—namely immigration and specifically Muslim immigration—has helped reinvigorate and strengthen the democratic process.  Despite broad diversity and conflicting agendas, Muslim immigrants—often linking up with native converts to Islam—have mobilized as an effective force. They have challenged the long tradition of Maurophobia exemplified in such mainstream festivities as the Festivals of Moors and Christians; they have taken to task residents and officials who have stood in the way of efforts to construct mosques; and they have defied the members of their own community who have refused to accommodate the rights of women.  Beginning in Melilla, in Spanish-held North Africa, and expanding across Spain, the effect of this civil rights movement has been to fill gaps in legislation on immigration and religious pluralism and to set in motion a revision of prevailing interpretations of Spanish history and identity, ultimately forcing Spanish society to open up a space for all immigrants.

The following extract is the final section of Chapter 4 “Mosque Building, Catalan Nationalism, and Spain’s Politics of Belonging, 1990-2003.” After discussing why Barcelona is, together with Athens (Greece) and Ljubljana (Slovenia), one of the last three large European cities without a great mosque despite significant Muslim population in the region, the chapter discusses the pressures to culturally assimilate Muslims migrants experience in Catalonia.  Read more of this post

Kate D`Arcy@the Central: exclusive sample from her recent publication.

Kate D`Arcy@the Central 

The following extract is taken from the start of Chapter 6, ‘Critical Race Theory, education and Travellers’, pages 54-55 of Travellers and Home Education: Safe Spaces and Inequality published by Trentham Books at IOE Press http://ioepress.co.uk. The chapter begins with a quote from a Traveller parent Tina and throughout the book there are many accounts of Travellers’ own experiences and their views about school education spaces which expose the racism and discrimination their children encounter. The aim of this book is to remind people that for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people racism is an ever present daily occurrence and action for change is needed. The book documents equality issues but also delivers some recommendations in working towards social justice. I hope you purchase and enjoy reading it. The author would welcome any feedback you have. Please follow her or tweet your comment to via Twitter @KateDArcy2  Read more of this post

Sybil Oldfield@the Central: Exclusive sample of her most recent publication…

Sybil Oldfield@Left Central 

The following extract is from Thinking Against the Current`: Literature and Political Resistance.  It is exclusively published @the Central with the express permission of the author and publisher.   Read more of this post

A Brill publication @ the Central: Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-37 by Alan Sennett.

Alan Sennett 

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 7, ‘Defending the Revolution’, pages 267-9 of Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-1937, published by Brill. I have omitted the footnotes and altered the tense of the first sentence to address the present reader.  This snippet is taken from the concluding section to the chapter and offers a brief assessment of the POUM, its key thinkers and leaders, their role in Spain’s revolution and relationship with both the political thought and personality of Leon Trotsky.  It follows the main body of the chapter that deals with the attacks upon the POUM and what amounted to the rolling back of revolutionary gains (especially collectivisation) in which the party had played a role alongside the much larger and more powerful Anarcho-Syndicalist CNT.  The party and its leadership were subjected to a campaign of vilification and slander – accused, among other things of being ‘Trotsky-fascists’ and part of a ‘fifth column’.  This position was put forward by the official communists, the Comintern and other national Communist parties and their press organs.  May 1937 had seen the playing out of a mini civil war in Barcelona triggered by attacks upon revolutionary gains. Defeat for the revolutionary Left was quickly followed by the Republican government outlawing the POUM, Nin’s disappearance and murder and the arrest of many militants, some of whom were later tried by the Republican government. The chapter assesses historians’ explanations for the propaganda assault and the nature of the May events and Nin’s murder, all of which are matters of some controversy. There is also major historical disagreement over the roles played by the official Communists, Soviet agents and other forces; the culpability or otherwise of the POUM leaders; and whether or not the vilification campaign was connected to Soviet foreign policy, whose logic – it has been argued – dictated terminating Spain’s social revolution and the forces supporting it.  While sympathetic to the POUM in many ways, the emphasis is upon presenting a historical analysis which will, I suspect, find little favour with any sectarian political positions.  Read more of this post

There is nothing new under the Broiling Sun (Ken Burns)

Johnny Sunshine  

Looking on the bright side is not always easy, even for me, though the words of Daniel Berrigan encourage buoyancy; as faith always starts with oneself. It means an overriding sense of responsibility for the universe, making sure that the universe is left in good hands and the belief that things will finally turn out all right if we remain faithful. That said, it`s worth remembering that the natural optimism of the spirit must contend with the equally innate pessimism of the intellect.  Especially, when looking at the political landscape from a left-wing position. In these circumstances, it’s necessary to conclude that the fight has been completely fixed, against the many by the very few.  Such sentiment only amplified when one considers the more articulate commentary emanating from the USA today. Such as Chris Hedges suggesting that the political system has undergone a corporate coup d’état. Resulting in an inverted totalitarianism, not discernible through an individual demagogue but instead expressed via the anonymity of the corporate state.  This shadowy leviathan has made a servant of the contemporary Democratic Party an organization dominated by fake liberals, masquerading as the social democrats of the past, uttering political clichés favouring the poor, while serving the interest of monopoly and capital.   The USA today resembles Pottersville rather than Bedford Falls but a progressive government tradition does exist, which was shaped both by the right as well as the left.  Read more of this post

The Greatest Speech Ever Made by Chris Hedges: Promotions@LeftCentral

Promotions@LeftCentral

Image © Jankaka

The greatest speech ever made by Chris Hedges is an in-depth examination of USA domestic and foreign policy.  This is a comprehensive and powerful analysis.  Hedges employs a wealth of sources both contemporary and classical in this 55 minute talk.

The speech is at times both depressing and inspiring but it`s always thought provoking and hugely reflective.

No commentary here can convey the incredible majesty of the words employed by Hedges.  The greatest speech ever made? Well possibly Cicero could give Hedges a run for his money.

Book Review: Linda Palfreeman, Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances.

Alan Sennett

Image © Bas de Jong

Linda Palfreeman’s new book, Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances. British Medical Units in the Spanish Civil War, makes an important contribution to the historiography of Spain’s bitter civil war. Building upon her earlier ¡Salud! British Volunteers in the Republican Medical Services During the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (2012), the author offers a well-documented account of two hitherto neglected British humanitarian initiatives. While British relief efforts for Republican Spain have been well documented and analysed, there remain notable silences in the historical record. Read more of this post

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