History

The Audacity of Disappointment: Barack Obama’s A Promised Land

Picture Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann The President of the United States is having that recurring dream again. He finds himself on an unmarked street in an unknown neighbourhood; possibly on foot, possibly on bike, but distinctly alone regardless. The physical trappings of the office – motorcades, security details – are absent, as are the emotional weights. His decisions are no longer of consequence.…

The Social Review Podcast Episode 64: Vernacular Social Democracy

Historian Jon Lawrence (author of ‘Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Post-War England’) sits down with Jasper to discuss his article on ‘Vernacular Social Democracy’ in the latest issue of Renewal. They dissect what the concept means, the intersection of liberal individualism with communitarianism, how Keir Starmer is doing so far, the weirdness of 2017, and much more. iTunes Link…

Vernacular social democracy and the politics of Labour

This article was originally published in Renewal. Social democracy has put down deep roots in British popular culture; this is why Johnson’s government has instinctively favoured social democratic responses to the Covid-19 crisis. This vernacular social democracy is a potent resource which Labour can use to proclaim its vision of the good society. Last year I published a history of post-war England focused…

Review: Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London by Owen Hatherley

Red Metropolis is a strange book, largely because, somewhat by its own admission, it’s not really a book at all: it’s somewhere between an overgrown essay and a coping mechanism. This is not to say that it is bad (quite the contrary: it is good) but to say that it is somewhat hard to pin down, accordingly, somewhat hard to write about.…

People Like Us: Our Leaders and the Politics of Ordinariness

In contemporary Britain, political leaders are sewn into our cultural fabric and their attempts to don a guise of demotic accessibility seem commonplace and expected. Perhaps most explicitly, and contradictorily, Boris Johnson has used this strategy of appearing as ‘one of us’ to gain the trust of large swathes of his electorate, claiming to represent the apathetic sentiment of anti-Establishment politics which…

The Social Review Podcast Episode 62: Left Out of This Land

Joe, Lines and Julia meet to discuss two big new books about Corbyn’s Labour Party: ‘This Land: The Story of a Movement’ by Owen Jones, and ‘Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn’ by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. The team discuss the book’s different conclusions, whether it casts new light on Corbyn’s Labour or not, the importance of interpersonal…

The Social Review Podcast Episode 61: Alexander Hamilton – Economic Radical?

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a… you get the gist. Jasper sits down with Christian Parenti, author of ‘Radical Hamilton: Economic Lessons From a Misunderstood Founder’ (Verso, 2020) to discuss the political and economic legacy of the ten-dollar founding father. Was Hamilton really a free-trading capitalist, or a statist radical? How do Hamiltonianism and Jeffersonianism continue to influence socio-economic development…

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…