Culture

How Not To Be

Until quite recently I rarely thought about the noughties. It was just a warehouse decade for my childhood, an apolitical sink hole of low rise jeans and foreign wars on terrestrial television. Nothing happened then- or, more correctly, nothing happened to me, which, when you’re 13, is the same thing. Of late, however, I have begun to think about the decade in…

Lessons from Brecht

Bertolt Brecht was one of the most innovative and unique cultural products of “the Left”, his work is the product of lived experiences in Weimar Germany, Nazi Germany, the United States, and the German Democratic Republic. Consequently, Brecht, politically and ideologically, inhabits a distinct space that has many lessons for socialism today.   Brecht lived through multiple defeats of socialism in an age…

On The Internet No One Can Hear You Scream (Because You Don’t Have A Mouth)

Harlan Ellison’s 1967 work “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” looms large on the internet. The Hugo award winning short story tells the tale of the only five people left alive after civilisation has been wiped out by a supercomputer called “AM”. Initially a weapons system in an escalated cold war (“Allied Mastercomputer”), AM becomes self aware (and namewise moves…

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.…