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William Blake Frontispiece Jerusalem websized

      I will not cease from mental fight

     Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand

     Till we have built Jerusalem

     In England's green and pleasant land.

     - William Blake


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Olive Branch: On The Divine Right of Honourable Members for the Parliamentary Labour Party Hardly any of us wish you dead. The decapitation machine (pictured) is mostly metaphorical.We have no immediate plans to place your severed heads – eyes and tongues protruding wildly –in a line along the railings outside Westminster or leave them there for the next twenty years, as a warning to others. It’s just we think many of you would benefitfrom six months working part timeminimum wage in a home for cancer patients who refuse to wear pants; a year or two of Sunday mornings scrubbing clean…
Saturday, 17 September 2016 20:13

Why stone circles? Editor's notes, September 2016

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I hope you all had a good break some time over the summer. I spent a few days on the island of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides. You might not think of Lewis as a notable site for political art – but it is. Like many other parts of Scotland, it was the site of some cruel and ruthless clearances of people deemed to be less profitable than sheep. But it was also the site of some remarkable stories of resistance, of struggles of crofters for the means of production – the land. Some of these events are told through…
Saturday, 17 September 2016 18:55

Poetry belongs to everyone

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Andy Croft wrote The Privatisation of Poetry for Culture Matters a few months ago, and it has been amongst the most popular and influential articles on the site. He has attracted a good deal of criticism for his application of communist philosophy to poetry. Here, in an article republished from The Argotist Online, he defends and extends the thesis advanced in that article. See also Alain Badiou, Communism by Way of the Poem, and Alan Morrison, The Poetry of Common Ownership. Q. Is there a difference between allusion and plagiarism? The difference seems to be measured simply by the varying…
Saturday, 17 September 2016 15:20

Modern Banality: Post-GFC, Post-Brexit and Post-Trump

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Professor Steve Redhead suggests the continuing relevance of Jean Baudrillard's post-political spirit. Why are we where we, are post-GFC, post-Brexit and (maybe) post-Trump? Banality rules but Theory beckons. We certainly live, interestingly, in theoretical times. Previously we lived, theoretically, in interesting times. Study on the left globally has attached itself to ‘theory’ and ‘theorists’ as never before. And ‘high theory’ at that. But there has also been a delve into ‘the popular’ of culture as never before, too – both high and low popular culture. The celebrity intellectual culture which has developed inexorably over the past few years has produced…
Saturday, 17 September 2016 14:59

When the well runs dry

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When The Well Runs Dry by Alan Dunnett I got to the piss-edge last nightsharp and painful like an infectionwith you below looking upfrom a hole in hell. I thought, this must be a jokeafter all the admonitionsbut then there's no telling what peoplemay do and be done by in spite of precautions. Listen,it is not too late. I know I saidI would never leave this placebut I failed to see the future. Surely I can change my mind?This could be a first dayinstead of the last no burning no ash to swallow. I'm getting up. I'm on the movebefore…
Friday, 16 September 2016 19:52

Reification and the writer

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Tony McKenna applies marxist theory to screenwriting. If ten people were put in a room and asked to come up with a list of great film directors, the numbers would probably be quite high. We all know the names, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Bergman, Cameron, Loach et al. Now ask those same people to come up with a list of screen writers. That roll of names will probably be a good deal shorter. David Simon perhaps. Lena Durham. Aaron Sorkin anyone? That, in itself, is kind of odd. I don’t want to malign the role of directors because it is an important…
Thursday, 01 September 2016 19:16

Disaster Drawn

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Martin Rowson reviews a new book about comics, and along the way takes us on an insightful tour of the history of drawing, witnessing war, and how the best, most brilliantly embittered cartoonists have pretty massive chips on their shoulders. "A Picture paints a thousand words" is about the hoariest of hoary old cliches around. Then again, cliches only hang around long enough to become cliches because they tend to be true. Both the truth and the potency of this particular cliche lie at the heart of Hillary L. Chute’s "Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, [stet comma - it’s in…
Thursday, 01 September 2016 13:51

The Chalk Fairy

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The Chalk Fairy by Thomas McColl Each night I traipse the streets of London, drawing chalk lines round homeless people sleeping rough. I’ve found that, even in the early hours of Christmas Day, there’s no shortage of bodies to draw my outlines round: London’s one big crime scene every single day of the year. This poem is from Poems for Jeremy Corbyn, published by Shoestring Press in mid-September.
Wednesday, 31 August 2016 16:01

Communism, religion and atheism

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Professor Roland Boer continues his series with a discussion of religion and membership of communist parties. Is it possible to join a communist party as a religious person? The answer, we would expect, is ‘no’. After all, Marxism is a materialist philosophy and political movement, with no time for the mystifying effects of religion or for reactionary religious institutions. The problem is that communist parties in different parts of the world have often permitted religiously committed people to become members. Let us go back to the First International (or International Workingmen’s Organisation). Founded in 1864 from a diverse array of left-wing…
Vicky Sparrow introduces the poetry of Anna Mendelssohn, imprisoned for her association with the Angry Brigade, and discusses how its 'attentive concern' rescues objects and people from the processes of capitalist commodification and impoverishment of meaning that are typical of capitalist culture. The poetry of Anna Mendelssohn (1948-2009) is both empathic and uncompromising. Politically charged, explosive moments in her poetry are patterned within shifting images that register a profoundly sensitive lyric subjecthood; it is a poetry of struggle in which political work is never divorced from the minor confusions of everyday life. Writing, for Mendelssohn, forms part of the struggle…
Keith Flett takes a look at how the battle against big business for good beer continues into the era of craft beer. Late summer, after the Great British Beer Festival, is a good time to take stock in the UK of where the beer world is. For most of British industrial history what campaigning there was about alcohol was done by those who thought people should drink less of it and sometimes none at all. The temperance movement was mainly focused on spirits and often saw beer as an acceptable alternative but in recent times matters have changed. Temperance is not…
Tuesday, 30 August 2016 17:28

A culture of overconsumption

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Dr Emma Boyland starts a new series for Culture Matters about eating and drinking, and the politics and economics involved in moulding a culture of overconsumption. It seems that barely a day goes by without mention of obesity in the news. It is called an epidemic, or even worse, a pandemic. Television generally is obsessed with the topic - programmes revolve around groups of overweight individuals trying to achieve weight loss, or show the extreme end of excess weight, highlighting the plight of those who cannot even leave their homes without drastic intervention. Though television of course has a flair…
Saturday, 17 September 2016 21:05

Banking on the NHS

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Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:30


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Titanic by Salena Godden I used to love the film TitanicThe last 45 minutes or soAfter the sex scene in the carWhen the sea water starts to flow The sinking ship All slopping and swayingThe band how they Bravely keep on playing A man dressing up As a girly waifTo hide in a boat And get himself safe The human catastropheThe chaos, panic and dramaI used to love that film,Titanic, all the melodrama But now it just looks Like the Channel 4 newsPeople grabbing for life jacketsNo coats and no shoes Now I'm just reminded Of the plight of refugeesAll…
David Betteridge reviews Jim Aitken's latest collection. In the three dozen poems that make up Jim Aitken’s latest collection, Flutterings, we sense a mind fully engaged in the world. The poet’s senses, feelings and intelligence are all equally involved; and it is a large world that he inhabits, ranging from such minute particulars as the bark of a silver birch tree peeling like “paint-work starting to flake” to such over-arching ideas as “the world turned upside down”. The viewpoint from which Jim Aitken makes his observations is, in the first instance, his native Edinburgh, but behind that, through his family’s…
Phil Brett introduces the art of Cornelia Parker.             I was only vaguely familiar with the artist Cornelia Parker, when in 1998, Steve, a good friend of mine, suggested that we visit the London Serpentine Gallery for an exhibition of hers. At the time, I wasn’t in a good emotional place, so I might have expected a pub rather than a gallery, but nonetheless I agreed. It was a good choice. What I saw entranced me. I sat on the floor, staring in wonder at Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-1989). The silver plated cutlery had been flattened…
Professor Steve Redhead discusses the rivalry between Pep and Jose, the absurdities of the English Premier League, the popular culture of Manchester, Northern Powerhouse - and communist football. Manchester is ‘buzzin’, as the locals would say. With the arrival this summer of the two best coaches in modern world football at Manchester City and Manchester United respectively a new global media circus narrative is being written. Manchester as Football City – Pep and Jose! Roll Up, Roll Up! Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have met before as rivals in Spain with eye gouging and high drama on the daily agenda…
Dr. Lucy Pearson explores the radical potential of fanfiction for young readers and other marginalised groups, especially in a media environment which is still focused on the needs and desires of men. Children’s books are not written by children. At least, not usually: a glance at the children’s bestseller lists will show you books not only written by adults, but also edited, sold and bought by adults. This sets up a potential power imbalance between the author and the reader; the children’s literature critic Perry Nodelman (1992) suggests children’s literature is an act of colonisation: we position children as ‘Other’,…
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  • The efforts of toil have given the human hand the high degree of perfection required to conjure into being the pictures of a Raphael, the statues of a Thorwaldsen, the music of a Paganini
    Freidrich Engels The Dialectics of Nature
  • Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world—the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.
    Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky Author (1904 –1936)
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