Perspectives on the UK General Election

by Elliot Murphy

The success of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens is strong evidence that building left alternatives is much more effective when done outside of Labour, not within it. Efforts to combat climate change may well be, simultaneously, the anti-austerity and anti-establishment driving force that British politics is in dire need of. The two things must surely go hand in hand. If not, then the resulting environmental cataclysm will drown out all the major ideological debates about people vs profit, independence vs unionism and socialism vs neoliberalism, and the only remaining social agenda will be survival. [read full essay]

The Dancing Narcissus

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle Vol. 4

reviewed by Hilary Ilkay

Meeting Karl Ove Knausgaard at the Edinburgh Book Festival last August was both a thrilling and terrifying experience. After binge-reading the first three instalments of My Struggle, I felt intimately connected to the narrating Knausgaard, who leaves no introspective stone unturned, but I had no idea what I would say when confronted with the grizzled, bearded Norwegian himself. Knausgaard lays bare the figures in his life, both transient and lasting, with as much candour as he does himself, and... [read more]

So Just How Fucked Are We?

Danny Dorling, Inequality and the 1%

reviewed by Luke Davies

According to Professor Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford: pretty fucked. Inequality and the 1% is more of a statistical overview than a polemic. Published towards the end of last year, now seems like a good time to remind ourselves of its existence. Because it’s devastating. And because it’s full of sober, irrefutable data analysis – it is a product of research, with 50 pages of footnotes. In other words, not the kind of public school... [read more]
 

We Need to Talk About Bifo

Franco 'Bifo' Berardi, Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide

reviewed by Robert Barry

I have been getting worried about Franco Berardi. He seems upset. Should someone be checking up on him? From the evidence of his latest book for Verso, Heroes, the Italian writer and activist, known as Bifo, is in the midst of one god-awful funk: obsessing over catastrophe, spending all his time reading dubious websites composed of mass-murderers’ manifestos, seemingly incapable of finding enjoyment in any other form of media. ‘Why,’ he asks repeatedly throughout the text, ‘did I write... [read more]

The Question of Power

Victor Serge, trans. Mitchell Abidor, Anarchists Never Surrender: Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence on Anarchism, 1908–1938

reviewed by Ian Birchall

Victor Serge was witness to some of the most momentous events of the first half of the 20th century. He was an anarchist in Brussels and Paris, then, after a spell in jail, went to post-Revolutionary Russia. He supported the Revolution loyally for some years, then opposed the rise of Stalin, returned to the West and ended up in Mexico, escaping the Nazi occupation of France. Best known for his Memoirs of a Revolutionary (1951) and novels such as The Case of Comrade Tulayev (1967), he was also a... [read more]
 

‘An infinite degradation of everything’

Eric Hazan and Kamo, First Measures of the Coming Insurrection

reviewed by Stephen Lee Naish

If the proposed revolution in First Measures of the Coming Insurrection is successful then future generations will recall right-wing commentator and television host Glenn Beck unwittingly promoting the subversive literature that brought about the revolt. In 2014, Beck drew conclusions to mankind's downfall via the nihilistic content of a little-known philosophy book by Eugene Thacker entitled In the Dust of This Planet (2011), the popular TV show True Detective (the show’s writer Nic... [read more]

House-training the Id

Marina Warner, Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale

reviewed by Helen Tyson

Once upon a time, my mother took a school friend and me to a theatre production of Grimm’s fairy tales. I don’t remember much about the performance, but seared into my mind is one vivid scene: one of the ugly sisters, cloaked, hunched, sinister, and very ugly, reaches across and plucks out the other sister’s eye, a trail of bloody tendons spewing out like a rainbow in its wake. My seven-year-old self, more familiar with the 1950 Walt Disney Cinderella, with its friendly cooing birds,... [read more]
 

Against Foukant

Maurizio Ferraris, trans. Sarah De Sanctis, Introduction to New Realism

reviewed by Paul Ennis

Introduction to New Realism is an interesting text for a number of reasons. It is a short, but fruitful introduction into the English-speaking world of the Italian philosopher Maurizio Ferraris. Ferraris is a proponent of the philosophical position of new realism. What makes his thinking distinct is that Ferraris emerged as a thinker from a postmodern culture wherein antirealism was long considered the default position. The book is structured as follows: it begins with a detailed Foreword by... [read more]

Exploitation, Misery, Suffering, Poverty, Illness, Torture & Ignorance

Willie Thompson, Work, Sex and Power: The Forces That Shaped Our History

reviewed by Stuart Walton

The first of four epigraphs to Willie Thompson's global human history is Marx's dictum from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: 'Man makes his own history, but he does not make it out of the whole cloth; he does not make it out of conditions chosen by himself, but out of such as he finds close at hand'. The historian, on the other hand, makes it out of just what he or she chooses to, and the abiding themes of any historical narrative, whether of biological evolution or of economic... [read more]
 

What Will We Do With Our Fear?

Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation

reviewed by Peter Marshall

Early in 2015, following years of growing unease about the safety and necessity of vaccination, an outbreak of measles that began in Disney World resulted in over 100 cases of the once eradicated disease being reported throughout the United States. The parents who chose not to vaccinate their children, and so precipitated the outbreak, were not religious nor were they necessarily right-wing science deniers. Many were affluent, educated, white, and from the upper middle-class. That is, they came... [read more]

The Thought of Pain and the Pain of Thought

Simon Morgan Wortham, Modern Thought in Pain: Philosophy, Politics, Psychoanalysis

reviewed by Joel White

It was in the waiting room of a hospital that I first picked up Simon Morgan Wortham’s Modern Thought in Pain: Philosophy, Politics, Psychoanalysis. Surgery was looming around the corner. Pain, in its bodily, immanent and imminent sense, was on the mind. Before I began to read, pain, as situated between the body and the mind, the material and the ideal, the past and the future, was present in all its ignominious facets. In fact, the dualisms that the thought of pain or the pain of thought... [read more]