where does resistance come from?

Sheila Cohen reviews Workplace Conflict: Mobilization and Solidarity in Argentina by Maurizio Atzeni (Palgrave Macmillan 2010).

This is a book which should be read by anyone interested in and committed to rank and file activism. There are two obstacles – the price, which as with so many “academic” texts is absurdly high [1] and the English, which can be hard to get your head around. This is no fault of the Italian author, but the publisher clearly has not forked out for the necessary editing – which, at £60 a throw, is a bit of a cheek.

The content and theoretical approach of Workplace Conflict make it more than rewarding, despite these obstacles. In fact it is something of a landmark in the analysis of working-class consciousness, carrying as it does theoretical and strategic perspectives which depart from the static and non-dialectical approaches found in more conventional analyses. This is a book which can suggest ways forward for the rank and file working-class movement. Continue reading “where does resistance come from?”

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a revolution in retreat

Adam Ford reviews The Russian Revolution in Retreat, 1920-24. Soviet workers and the new communist elite, by Simon Pirani, Routledge, 2008.

“I cannot be that sort of idealist communist who believes in the new God That They Call The State, bows before the bureaucracy that is so far from the working people, and waits for communism from the hands of pen-pushers and officials as though it was the kingdom of heaven.” – excerpt from the resignation letter of a Bolshevik Party member

Within what is usually labelled ‘the left’, your answer to the question ‘When did the Russian revolution go wrong?’ is a kind of touchstone. Each organisation seems to have its own One True Answer, and giving the wrong response at the wrong meeting can earn you the kind of scorn that the very religious reserve for those whose beliefs differ ever so slightly from theirs. Cue many weary Life of Brian jokes. Continue reading “a revolution in retreat”

robin hood in the 21st century: rallying the poor for the civil liberties of the rich

by Sebastian Wright

Robin Hood: a populist yarn and surefire crowd pleaser if ever there was one. He lives in the woods with his merry men, stealing from the rich, and redistributing to the poor; all the while engaging in a tit for tat with his arch nemesis, the feudal lacky the Sheriff of Nottingham. What could go wrong? Continue reading “robin hood in the 21st century: rallying the poor for the civil liberties of the rich”

why don’t we side with the humans in avatar?

by Sam Parsa

Recently director James Cameron returned after 12 years of absence since his Titanic (1997) to make Avatar. Costing somewhere between $200 to 300 million to make and returning a profit of over $1 billion, Avatar is a sci-fi film about a hired crew of humans who take over a planet called Pandora in 2154 in order to exploit its resources – mainly a substance called unobtanium.

Predictably, the large company of soldiers (and ex-Marines) are equipped with huge battleships and robot-soldiers. These end up being very hostile to the Na’vi, the native humanoid species, who are very traditional with their own strong cultural and religious traditions. As expected and as commentated by many, the storyline resembles the invasion of Iraq. However apart from the predictable romance between the native girl and the heroic white man, the story has a little twist: some of the scientists decide to defect to the Na’vi side, organise them, fight back with the humans and even win the battle. Continue reading “why don’t we side with the humans in avatar?”