Culture

Left Reading Groups and Lockdown

Photo Credit: Rich Grundy  In 1792, a British army officer sent to assess the morale of potential troops in an imminent war against revolutionary France reported with horror that the workers of Sheffield did not only ‘read the most violent publications,’ they also ‘comment on them.’ In Halifax, a Methodist chapel had set up a debating society at which the town’s weavers…

Labour Campaign for Folk Horror

I spent much of my childhood in the land of long and lonely driveways hung with fog and remote houses in the middle of storms; of darkened railway stations and cultists, standing stones and lurking creatures, sinister voiceovers and pale faced, long fingered children. This wasn’t through personal choice; I just grew up in a family that was intensely interested in ghost…

Thomas Cromwell, Liberal?

Meritocracy, technocracy and cosmopolitanism in the court of Henry VIII: an unlikely ‘patient zero’ of modern liberalism. Historical fiction can do two things for contemporary readers. It can exhibit the strangeness of the past, show how thought and action was driven by mindsets fundamentally different from our own, and act as a portal for the modern reader onto an alien world. Or…

Pesach

At the Passover Seder each year, Jewish people ask why this night is different from all other nights. The question continues to find meaning; the circumstances we celebrate this year fill us with doubt and despondency. But there is an answer – for thousands of years we have been the people of the book. Texts and commentaries have informed our people’s direction.…

Faith and the Left in the 21st Century

    A few months ago, I found myself debating with some politically like-minded friends whether or not religion could be ‘compatible’ with socialism.  The broad consensus went something like this: individual religious belief is fine, provided it’s confined to the private sphere, some of the great socialists of history were also people of deep faith, but ‘Organised Religion’ –– like, say,…

A Better Broadcasting Corporation

In Max Brooks’ popular zombie novel ‘World War Z’, there is a class of zombie-like creatures called ‘Quislings’. Quislings (who presumably take their name from the Nazi-installed wartime Prime Minister of Norway) look and act like the undead, but are actually entirely human. The shock of the dead rising and the fracturing of society’s norms simply broke them, and now they act…