Making Sense of Thatcherism and Crime

by Stephen Farrall

Crime was a topic which Thatcher often referred to, especially during the 1979 general election campaign when she frequently talked about people wanting to feel safe walking the streets. She also favoured the use of corporal punishment and voted to bring back hanging whenever there was a vote on the topic in the Houses of Parliament. But in practice, her governments were not known for being especially ‘tough’ on crime. The memoirs of successive Home Secretaries in the 1980s reveal that Thatcher was content to leave them to run the Home Office and to bring forth whichever sorts of acts they wished to – despite the fact that crime rose during the 1980s in a dramatic fashion. [read full essay]

Default (Philosophy) Man

Lars Iyer, Wittgenstein Jr

reviewed by Luke Davies

The middle-aged, middle-class white man in a state of crisis – this is a familiar enough literary theme. Its central figure has been especially prominent in 20th-century literature – from J. Alfred Prufrock to Leopold Bloom, from Jean-Baptiste Clamence to Humbert Humbert. Out of time and place, these essentially romantic characters struggle to align themselves with modern values, signalling the paradigmatic shifts that they bestride. As Hermann Hesse wrote of his own such creation, Harry... [read more]

The Generation of Hope

Jean-Pierre Filiu, Gaza: A History

reviewed by Daniel Whittall

Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, Fatah, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community … History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be... [read more]

Gaps, Breaks and Separations

Jacques Rancière, The Intervals of Cinema

reviewed by Calum Watt

The Intervals of Cinema is the latest in a series of translations published by Verso of works by the French philosopher Jacques Rancière. The book was originally published in French in 2011 and can be seen as a companion volume to Rancière’s previous book, Film Fables (2001), which discusses various aspects of contradiction surrounding the notion of narrative in film. Contradiction is again the name of the game in The Intervals of Cinema as Rancière examines, across six essays, cinema’s... [read more]

Re-routing architectural practice: from the literary to the spatial, and back again

Klaske Havik, Urban Literacy: Reading and Writing Architecture

reviewed by Rosa Ainley

The motif of dotted and dashed lines on the matte blue of the cover immediately presents the idea of a series of paths and routes and penetrable borders, crossing and overlapping each other. We’re going somewhere. In modern times everything’s a journey it seems, whether or not tickets are involved. Here this is explicit, and fittingly the journey starts on a bridge, with its suggestion of linkage, separation and connection, departure and arrival. Between these points, the first and last... [read more]

The Everyday's Dark Matter

Jacques Rancière, Figures of History

reviewed by Jeffrey Petts

How do we want to be remembered? Do we want to be figures of history – or, regretful of past events and their indiscriminate digital presence, simply forgotten? Of course the choice is never that straightforward: we want the best of both worlds, good publicity (better, a place in history) and some privacy (alive and dead). The background for Jacques Rancière in 1997 – when ‘The Unforgettable’, the longer of the two essays in Figures of History, was first published – was more urgent... [read more]

Recovering the Real

Tom Sparrow, The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism

reviewed by Simi Freund

If you were to enquire about current trends in continental philosophy, you'd be sure to hear a lot of talk about ‘Speculative Realism’. It's only been seven years since the now famous colloquium of the same name, which took place at Goldsmiths College in 2007 and brought together the four original speculative realists (Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Ray Brassier and Iain Hamilton Grant). But in that time, Speculative Realism has blossomed into a veritable movement. The rapidity of its... [read more]

‘Do You Want To Speak To My Gun?’

Martin A. Parlett, Demonizing a President: The 'Foreignization' of Barack Obama

reviewed by Stephen Lee Naish

Even before reading Martin A. Parlett's well-researched and fascinating book, Demonizing a President: The ‘Foreignization’ of Barack Obama, I often wondered if it would be possible for the racial conflicts that so permeate America's collective narrative to be alleviated by simply having a non-white candidate in one of the most influential and powerful positions in the world. If Parlett's book is anything to go by, the answer to this question must be a resounding no. The events surrounding... [read more]

Saving a Fish From Drowning

Norman Thomas di Giovanni, Georgie & Elsa: Jorge Luis Borges and His Wife: The Untold Story

reviewed by Alexis Forss

‘If fiction is imagined as a globe,’ wrote Martin Amis, ‘with realism at its equatorial belt, then Borges occupies a spectral citadel in the North Pole.’ If we were to add to Amis’s cosmology a twin planet of non-fiction then its lodestar would guide us to an arctic athenaeum housing Speak, Memory and The Executioner’s Song, and in some derelict shack amidst the slop of the tropics’ fuggiest swampland we would find the shabby and misbegotten Georgie & Elsa. If this is indeed... [read more]

Blue Screens

David Berry, Critical Theory and the Digital

reviewed by Dominic Fox

What Derrida wrote, at the opening of Of Grammatology (1967), about language could perhaps today be said of computation: ‘never as much as at present has it invaded, as such, the global horizon of the most diverse researches and the most heterogenous discourses … it indicates, as if in spite of itself, that a historico-metaphysical epoch must finally determine as language the totality of its problematic horizon.’ David Berry’s Critical Theory and the Digital is an informed and... [read more]

‘Every Rebel is Our Ally’

Chris Bambery, The Second World War: A Marxist History

reviewed by John Newsinger

It seems almost perverse that at a time when the British Establishment is determined to celebrate the mass slaughter of the First World War, Pluto Press should publish a Marxist history of the Second. So widespread is the popular awareness of the murderous futility of the Western Front that the Establishment has had a hard job re-branding the 1914-18 conflict for centenary purposes; by contrast, the Second World War is still seen as a heroic struggle against Nazi tyranny. It was a war in... [read more]