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

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

Unsafe God`s book promotion@LeftCentral

Book promotion@LeftCentral 

This book makes the compelling argument that religion can be complicit in conflict and that a new secularism is vital to foster security. Using insights from complexity science, it shows how dynamic secularism can be used to accommodate diverse faiths and beliefs within worldly politics.

Exploration of the interplay of religion and education in the context of security and notions of safe schools offers new understandings of how religions learn – or instead remain frozen accidents that hinder societies from adapting to change. The book shows how turbulence and amplification underscore the necessity for an education that is critical even of patriarchal religious texts and that recognizes the power of satire and humour.

Lynn Davies follows her groundbreaking work on education and extremism to draw on work in mentoring those at risk of radicalization and consider how the radicalized learn and unlearn their behaviours. She presents international examples to show how a foundation in secular rights and freedoms can enable young people to develop the skills and networks to create change without turning to violence.

Author: Lynn Davies

See more at: http://ioepress.co.uk/books/social-justice-equality-and-human-rights/unsafe-gods/#sthash.IlOKIRHi.dpuf

In Search of the City on a Hill book promotion@LeftCentral

In Search of the City on a Hill 

In Search of the City on a Hill reconstructs the complete story of ‘the city on a hill’ from its Puritan origins to the present day for the first time. From John Winthrop’s 1630 ‘Model of Christian Charity’ and the history books of the nineteenth century to the metaphor’s sudden prominence in the 1960s and Reagan’s skilful incorporation of it into his rhetoric in the 80s, ‘the city on a hill’ has had a complex history: this history reveals much about received notions of American exceptionalism, America’s identity as a Christian nation, and the impact of America’s civil religion. Through this history, the book challenges the widespread assumption that Americans have always used this potent metaphor to define their national identity. It demonstrates that America’s ‘redeemer myth’ owes more to nineteenth- and twentieth-century reinventions of the Puritans than to the colonists’ own conceptions of divine election. The conclusion considers the current status of ‘the city on a hill’ and summarizes what this story of national myth eclipsing biblical metaphor teaches us about the evolution of America’s identity.

Published by Bloomsbury Academic

Author: Richard M. Gamble

This book will be reviewed at the Central soon.

The Tories From Winston Churchill to David Cameron book promotion@LeftCentral

The Tories From Winston Churchill to David Cameron 

The Tories offers a thorough and distinctive study of the electoral strategies, governing approaches and ideological thought of the British Conservative Party from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. Timothy Heppell integrates a chronological narrative with theoretical evaluation, examining the interplay between the ideology of Conservatism and the political practice of the Conservative Party both in government and in opposition. He considers the ethos of the Party within the context of statecraft theory, looking at the art of winning elections and of governing competently. The book opens with an examination of the triumph and subsequent degeneration of one-nation Conservatism in the 1945 to 1965 period, and closes with an analysis of the party’s re-entry into government as a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, and of the developing ideology and approach of the Cameron-led Tory party in government.

Published by Bloomsbury Academic

Author: Timothy Heppell

This book will be reviewed at the Central soon.

Darcus Howe: A Political Biography book promotion@LeftCentral

Darcus Howe: A Political Biography

Darcus Howe: a Political Biography examines the struggle for racial justice in Britain through the lens of one of Britain’s most prominent and controversial black journalists and campaigners.

Born in Trinidad during the dying days of British colonialism, Howe has become an uncompromising champion of racial justice. The book examines how Howe’s unique political outlook was inspired by the example of his friend and mentor C.L.R. James, and forged in the heat of the American civil rights movement, as well as Trinidad’s Black Power Revolution. Read more of this post

Reconstructing Spain book promotion@LeftCentral

Reconstructing Spain 

This book explores the role of cultural heritage in post-conflict reconstruction, whether as a motor for the prolongation of violence or as a resource for building reconciliation. The research was driven by two main goals: first, to understand the post-conflict reconstruction process in terms of cultural heritage, and second, to identify how this process evolves in the medium term and the impact it has on society. The Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and its subsequent phases of reconstruction provides the primary material for this exploration. In pursuit of the first goal, the book centres on the material practices and rhetorical strategies developed around cultural heritage in post-civil war Spain and the victorious Franco regime’s reconstruction. The analysis seeks to capture a discursively complex set of practices that made up the reconstruction and in which a variety of Spanish heritage sites were claimed, rebuilt or restored and represented in various ways as signs of historical narratives, political legitimacy and group identity. The reconstruction of the town of Gernika is a particularly emblematic instance of destruction and a significant symbol within the Basque regions of Spain as well as internationally. By examining Gernika it is possible to identify some of the trends common to the reconstruction as a whole along with those aspects that pertain to its singular symbolic resonance. In order to achieve the second goal, the processes of selection, value change and exclusionary dynamics of reconstruction and the responses it elicits are examined. Exploring the possible impact of post-civil war reconstruction in the medium term is conducted in two time frames: the period of political transition that followed General Franco’s death in 1975; and the period 2004–2008, when Rodríguez Zapatero’s government undertook initiatives to ‘recover the historic memory’ of the war and dictatorship. Finally, the observations made of the Spanish reconstruction are analysed in terms of how they might reveal general trends in post-conflict reconstruction processes in relation to cultural heritage. These insights are pertinent to the situations in Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Published: Sussex Academic Press (UK) – March   2014 – Author: Dacia Viejo-Rose

We are delighted to announce that Dr Alan Sennett will review this book at the Central, his own text Revolutionary Marxism in Spain 1930-1937 is out in June.

Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances book promotion@LeftCentral

Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances 

When a military coup provoked civil war in Spain in July 1936, many thousands of people around the world rallied to provide humanitarian aid. Britons were no exception. Collective efforts in Britain to provide aid for the Spanish Republic were vast in both scope and effect. Whilst such enterprise has formed the focus of a few previous studies, some of the most dramatic stories of the Spanish war have yet to be uncovered. This book seeks to shed light on the activities of two separate ventures that played important roles in British medical and humanitarian aid to Spain — the Scottish Ambulance Unit and Sir George Young’s Ambulance Unit. The volunteer members of these teams (those who went out to Spain and those who supported them in Britain) earned the unstinting praise of the Spanish government for their selfless commitment to the cause, as well as winning the respect and gratitude of the citizens whose welfare they strove so selflessly to protect. Recently discovered documentation reveals previously undisclosed details of these remarkably altruistic and, indeed, heroic enterprises, clarifying the reasoning behind their creation and documenting their endeavours in Spain — endeavours of key relevance to the wider history of the conflict. In Spain, the volunteers of the Scottish Ambulance Unit and the George Young Ambulance Unit offered a heartening and inspiring antithesis to the suffering they sought to relieve. They deserve to be remembered for what they embodied during those days of untold cruelty and destruction — outstanding examples of man’s humanity to man.

Sussex Academic Press (UK) – December   2013 author: Linda Palfreeman

We are delighted to announce that Dr Alan Sennett will review this book at the Central, his own text Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-1937`is due out in June.

The Muslim Struggle For Civil Rights in Spain book promotion@LeftCentral

The Muslim Struggle for Civil Rights in Spain

This book argues that secular and devout Muslims have fortified rather than compromised, as popular sentiment would have it, Spain’s fragile democracy since the end of dictatorship in 1975. Despite a broad diversity and often conflicting agendas, Spain’s Muslims have mobilised as an effective force and thrust themselves into the public arena. In demanding civil rights as immigrants and citizens on par with native-born Spaniards, they have struggled to fill gaps in immigration policy and legislation on religious pluralism, have called into question prevailing Christian interpretations of Spanish history, and have employed such concepts as convivencia (peaceful coexistence) and arraigo (rootedness) to argue their case, forcing Spanish society to open up a space for them and the government to expand legal protections to the levels of other developed nations. The struggle began in the city of Melilla, North Africa, in 1985 when the enclave’s Muslim residents demanded access to Spanish citizenship and challenged what they perceived to be a privileging of Christian Spaniards. In 1989, the movement spread to mainland Spain, where Muslims formed independent organisations, proposed modification to unfair immigration laws, and pushed for the regularisation of undocumented residents. A major focus is how practising Muslims, both migrants and native converts, have worked to institutionalise Islam in Spain, have constructed mosques despite opposition, and have accommodated the state’s secular vision of women’s rights. Another focus examines the ways Muslims have interrogated the iconic image of the Moor in Spanish history and in festivities such as the Festivals of Moors and Christians, and how this has aroused tensions in areas with strong regional nationalist traditions, especially Catalonia. The study concludes with a survey of writings, in Spanish and Catalan, by Muslim immigrants, and how these works have helped to publicise the everyday experience of migration in Spain and to redefine what it means to be Muslim and Spanish. Read more of this post

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