Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas: – membership development and engagement – organizing drives – industrial disputes I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

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Talks

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Academic Presentations

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Teaching

Taught Courses I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management Comparative Employment Relations (PGR) Work & Employment in Context (UGR) Employment Relations (UGR)    

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Book Reviews

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Publications

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Academic Writings

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Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

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Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not […]

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Public Sociology

2017 Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017)  2016   2015   2014 Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire  Bergfeld, Mark, […]

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Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas:
– membership development and engagement
– organizing drives
– industrial disputes

I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

Talks

Academic Presentations

Teaching

Taught Courses

I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management

  • Comparative Employment Relations (PGR)
  • Work & Employment in Context (UGR)
  • Employment Relations (UGR)

 

 

Book Reviews

Publications

Academic Writings

Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy

Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today

Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not supermarkets’ Conference at SOAS, London. Title of the Paper: Can students strike? Lessons from the Quebec student movement

Bergfeld, Mark, 7 Jul 2012, Paper presenter together with Hossam El-Hamalawy at Marxism Conference at UCL, London. Title of Paper: Revolution 2.0? Social movements and Social Media

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 Jun 2012, Speaker, ND-Haus, Was ist ziviler Ungehorsam?, Marx‘ is Muss-Kongress, organised by Marx21 (Die Linke)

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Jun 2012, Paper presenter at For a Public University! Conference at Nottingham University Title of Paper: Neoliberal universities, neoliberal students? – Rediscovering the subjectivity of students

Bergfeld, Mark, 23 May 2012, Crisis & Resistance in Europe: How can the 99% win?, Augustine United Church, Edinburgh

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Apr 2012, Discussant, with Sukant Chandan, What’s really behind Syria’s uprising, Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM)

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Dec 2011, Discussant with Andrej Hunko MdB, Nicole Gohlke MdB, Haris Triandafilidou SYRIZA, „Krise und Protest in Europa. Ein Erfahrungsaustausch”, Studierendenkonferenz der Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag, Berlin

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2011, Discussant with Vegard Velle from Norwegian TUC, After Breivik: The fight against fascism in Europe, Marxisme, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Oct 2011, Panelist with Owen Jones, Laurie Penny, Alan Whitaker UCU, Education Against Austerity, London School of Economics Students’ Union, London

Bergfeld, Mark 1 Oct, 2011, Panelist with French, Greek and Spanish student activists, Coalition of Resistance Conference ‘Europe Against Austerity, Camden Centre, London

Bergfeld, Mark 22 Jun 2011, Panelist with Mark Serwotka, John McDonnell MP, Unite the Resistance Meeting, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2011, Panelist with Tony Kearns Vice-President CWU, Communication Workers Union Congress, Meeting ‘Stop the Cuts’, BIC Bournemouth

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 May 2011, Paper presenter at Euro-Mediterranean conference ‘Rivolta di una generazione’ at Political Science, Faculty at La Sapienza, Rome, Italy Title of paper: Yearning for autonomy?  – Global youth revolts in context

Bergfeld, Mark, 29 Apr 2011, Panelist with Len McLuskey, George Galloway, Rally to Defend the Right to Protest, Strathclyde University, Glasgow

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 Feb 2011, Panelist with Michael Chessum (NCAFC), A people’s convention to build resistance to cuts and austerity, Right to Work Campaign, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, RMT Union Underground Engineering branch, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Nov 2010, Main speaker,Where next after the national demo?, Education Activist Network, King’s College London.

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, Financial Times, NUJ Chapel, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 31 Oct 2010, Panelist with John McDonnell MP: Time to Fight for Education, London Region UCU

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 May 2010, Panelist with Owen Holland (Sussex University), Stop the Cuts – Defend Jobs and Education, Steve Biko Building, University of Manchester

Bergfeld, Mark, 28 Oct 2008, Main Speaker: Another Education Is Possible Conference, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Public Sociology

2017

Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017) 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire 

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Tot pot canviar un dia d’any nou…, En Lluita (Catalan)

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, The world according to Merkel, Al-Jazeera English

2013

Bergfeld, Mark, Sep 2013, The Many Faces of Frau Merkel, Al-Jazeera English 

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, ¿Por qué Marx tenía razón, GRUNDmagazine #4

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, The Pop-Up Union at Sussex: Start with Solidarity, Socialist Review

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Brasilien: Die Bewegung ist ein Schlachtfeld, Neues Deutschland, 28/06/2013

Bergfeld, Mark, June 2013, A Brazilian Autumn? An Interview with Miguel Borba de Sa, Jacobin Magazine

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translation into Norwegian by Joakim Møllersen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Salon.com, Left Unity, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, How #OccupyGezi could transform society, New Statesman

–          Translated into Norwegian by Helle Håkonsen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Pluto Press

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Food Fights Against Austerity, Climate & Capitalism Journal,

–          Translated into German by Rosenrot for DieFreiheitsliebe.de

–          Translated into Norwegian by Hallgeir Opdal  for Radikal Portal and Ni Tyd (print only)

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translated into Greek by George Venizelos (forthcoming)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Dan Swain: Marx’s Theory of Alienation, Socialist Project (Canada),

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Francisco Louҫa, leading member of Bloco and Economist, Monthly Review Zine

–          Translated into Italian by Giuseppe Volpe for Z Net Italia

–          Translated into Spanish by Viento Sur

–          Translated into French by Presse-Toi A Gauche

–          Featured in International Viewpoint IV461, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2013, Der Anfang einer Krise des Regimes, Neues Deutschland

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, New struggles, New unions? On the Pop-Up Union at Sussex University, Ceasefire Magazine,

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: I Prefer The Horses In My Lasagne To The Donkeys In The Government, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: Police Batons for Protesters and Rubber Bullets for the Kids of Bela Vista, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Victory for Quebec students! Lessons from a strike, Adbusters Online

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2012, Crisis and Resistance in Portugal, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12165

–          Featured on RC44 – Research Committee on Labour Movements, Socialist Project (Canada), Global Research (Canada), Left Unity, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Portugal: When ‘good students’ turn sour, Trade Union and Global Restructuring, source: http://andreasbieler.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/portugal-when-good-students-turn-sour.html (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Occupy: How Do You Build A Movement?, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=6448 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Germany: The Rise of The Pirate Party, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12051 (accessed 13/06/2013)

–          Translated into Dutch by Socialisme.nu

http://socialisme.nu/blog/nieuws/29967/hoe-rebels-is-de-duitse-piratenpartij/

 

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, From Quebec to London: Is Student Power on the Rise?, The Occupied Times London, source:  http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=5945 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, New Battles in Higher Education, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=3099 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Education Demolition, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11440 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, „The Birth of the Climate Justice Movement”, The Essex Graduate Journal of Sociology, Vol.10, source: http://www.essex.ac.uk/sociology/documents/pdf/graduate_journal/10-11/the_essex_graduate_journal_of_sociology_2010.pdf (accessed 13/06/2013)

 

 

Reviews

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Ed. Laura Khatib – We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy & Graeber, David – The Democracy Project, Contention Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Book review: Luis Suarez-Villa-Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Alice Mattoni- Media Practice and Protest Politics: How Precarious Workers Mobilise, Interface Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Shelley Streebey – Radical Sensations: World Movements, Violence and Visual Culture, Left Eye On Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Richard Wolff – Democracy at Work: The Cure for Capitalism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12252 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Campbell Jones – Can the Market Speak, Berlin Review of Books, source: http://berlinbooks.org/brb/2013/04/can-the-market-speak/ (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Sasha Lilley – Catastrophism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12202 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Tad Tietze & Elizabeth Humphreys – On Utoya, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12007 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book Review: Stefan Collini – What Are Universities For?, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11972 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book Review: Lucio Magri – The Tailor of Ulm: A Possible History of Communism in the Twentieth Century by Lucio Magri, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11847

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book review: Lars T Lih – Lenin (Critical Lives series), Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, source: http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2012/602 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Film Review: No Impact Man, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11390 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Meszaros, Istvan – The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, International Socialism Journal 125, source: http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=628 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Derek Wall – The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11454 (accessed 13/06/2013)

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“Sometimes the leftovers are the best” A Summer Reading List: Volume III

“Sometimes the leftovers are the best” A Summer Reading List: Volume III

By on August 20, 2015 in books

So after compiling a list of summer reading recommendations from British journalists and radical women writers, we turn our attention to a couple of friends, activists and writers from the two sides of the Atlantic. I already made sure to order Theodorakis’s memoirs which Ewa Jasiewicz suggested as well as Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel suggested by Matt Myers. I think the sheer breadth of reading below will provide you with food for thought for the rest of the year.

Enjoy! 

 

Jerome Roos, editor of roarmag.org

Wolfgang Streeck, Buying Time
Probably the best account you’ll find of the transformations of the capitalist state over the past four decades and the deepening crisis of democratic capitalism post-2008. Also includes a fierce left-wing indictment of that anti-democratic neoliberal Moloch called the European Union. For me, Streeck is probably one of the most interesting thinkers at the moment. Bleak but essential reading.

David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules
Graeber is right: if the radical left is to be taken seriously, it should develop a much more coherent critique of bureaucracy. In these essays (some of them revised versions of published pieces, others original writings) Graeber develops a powerful argument: far from dismantling the bureaucratic elements of the state and making it more “efficient”, neoliberalism is actually drowning us in a nightmarishly complex system of rules that have basically become impossible to navigate. Graeber doesn’t so much intend to develop a coherent theory of bureaucracy himself but rather aims to start a conversation. Includes lovely flashes of insight on Tolkien’s “anarcho-monarchism” and the effective role of cops as “uniformed bureaucrats with guns.”

Marcus Rediker, Outlaws of the Atlantic
Together with his one-time co-author Peter Linebaugh, Rediker is probably my favourite living historian. He has basically pioneered the application of E.P. Thompson’s “history from below” approach to the study of empire-building and the making of capitalism in the modern Atlantic, and this book contains a selection of some of his best writings on the little-known history of “motley crews” (sailors, pirates, commoners, slaves) who rose up against their captains, masters and colonizers to create radical alternatives to capitalism and empire both on land and on sea: from the reclamation of the commons in the maroons of the Caribbean to the pirate republics off the African coast and the little-known slave revolts in early America. Great summer reading. (I can also recommend The Amistad Rebellion and The Multi-Headed Hydra, with Linebaugh.)

Nikos Poulantzas, State, Power, Socialism
A classic study of Marxist political science from the Greek thinker who probably did most to influence SYRIZA’s strategic orientation. This was to be Poulantzas’ last major text before he tragically took his own life. Despite the fact that it was published in 1978, it obviously retains its relevance today — which is why I decided to pick it back up and read it for a second time after Syriza’s election in January 2015. For me, the most important theoretical insights of this book relate to (1) the understanding of the state not as a “thing-object” but as the material condensation of a set of social relations; (2) the subsequent insight that the state, shot through with the contradictions of the fundamental class relation, becomes an important site of struggle; and (3) that any attempt to “take state power” will fail in the absence of autonomous social movements and rank-and-file workers’ struggles from below (my interpretation). While I certainly have some qualms about Poulantzas’ work (most importantly about the wholesale absence of public finance from his theoretical schema, which should be a priority for state theorists in the Marxist tradition), it’s a book any self-respecting radical should have read.

You can follow Jerome on Twitter 

Emine, El-Shabbaz, Activist in Mainz, Germany
Sohail Daulatzai – Black Star Crescent Moon (University of Minnesota Press)
Hamid Dabashi – Can Non-Europeans Think? (Zed Books)
Vijay Prashad – Letters to Palestine (Verso)

You can follow Emine on Facebook 

Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin Magazine
Perhaps inspired by what’s going on in SYRIZA and some of the contradictions of state power, I’ve been doing a bit of reading on Eurocommunism. Starting with Fernando Claudin’s Eurocommunism and Socialism, and also Ernest Mandel’s wonderful critique of the tradition, From Stalinism to Eurocommunism. A newer release, Paul Preston’s (unfair in many ways) biography, The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carillo is worth reading too.

I’m also revisiting some of the old debates about Labour from the 1980s, particularly the essays of Leo Panitch collected in Working Class Politics in Crisis.

You can follow Bhaskar on Twitter

Kevina King, Graduate student at University of Massachusetts Amherst
Kilomba, Grada. Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism. Münster: Unrast, 2008.
Black Women have been silenced for too long. Her book is about the experiences of everyday racism from the perspective of an Afro German and African American woman in Germany. Kilomba uses the methodological approach of contextualizing biographical narratives as a way to give voice to the so-called Other. Being a Black woman in academia, she argues, is activism. Kilomba recognizes the intersections of oppressions and uses the term ‘gendered racism’ as her location of the Black woman (57) she is against conceptions of a “double or triple burden” because oppressions do not compound to create a cumulative experience. Each intersection creates its specific effects since one ideology clashes with another.

Eggers, Maureen Maisha, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche and Susan Arndt. Mythen, Masken und Subjekte: Kritische Weißseinsforschung in Deutschland. Münster: Unrast, 2009.
I have been interested in whiteness and what it means in Germany for the Black German experience. Critical Whiteness Studies is often argued to be an academic endeavour. This book, however, highlights that Black people in Germany and everywhere have analysed, observed, and critiqued whiteness since the beginning of slavery and colonialism. Wherever there are Black people and white people in one racially stratified, white dominated society, Black people have to navigate their lives around white people’s lives in order to survive. This requires Black people to understand the behaviour they might encounter when they are in a sea of whiteness. Black people have always done so, and that this is often deemed non-academic does not negate the intellectual work contributing to a Black archive of knowledge.

Opitz, May, Katharina Oguntoye and Dagmar Schultz. Showing our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. Showing Our Colors (Farbe bekennen in German)
This is the magnus opus of Black German or Afro German scholarship. It also remains the one against which all subsequent scholarship has to be evaluated. It is considered the milestone of Black German studies not only because it is the first study on Blacks in Germany written by Blacks in Germany, but also because of its intertextual approach, and its broadened understanding of Black diasporic histories, in which culture and politics are local and global at the same time. Via historical essays that delineate Blackness and Black people in Germany since the Middle Ages not only from Africa but later from the Americas as well, poetry that illuminates victimization and survival, but at the same time calls for activism and resistance, interviews that point to everyday racial discrimination in the past and present, but also highlight the beginning of a group identity and an oral history, and biographical narratives that are telling accounts of multi-generational Black German history, the contributors of Farbe bekennen manifestoed a Black German cognizance that sparked grassroots organizations like the I.S.D. (Initiative Schwarze Deutsche or Initiative of Black Germans), and ADEFRA (Afro-Deutsche Frauen or Afro-German Women), magazines like Afrekete , and national yearly meetings for Black Germans called Bundestreffen.

You can follow Kevina on Facebook

Matt Myers, activist and former editor of Oxford Left Review

The Assembly Line, Robert Linhart, 1981 University of Massachusetts Press
An utterly engrossing account by a French student revolutionary in the aftermath of May 1968 who finds a job at the Citroën car-factory in Choisy, Paris, with the aim of organising and agitating. His thick description of the drudgery of life on the production line during his 9 months of work is testament to both the depths of alienation that mass production plunges human beings, but also of the strength of resolve of workers who will not submit, who against all the odds, resist.

There are many poignant images of Linhart’s account, written in brilliant prose which the English translation has not affected – from his experiences of work, to the description of a strike which he participated in (and was victimised in), to the compelling character portraits of his workmates. One such description which has particularly stuck with me was the lengths that workers at the car factory went to in order to restore a sense of control over their lives which had been totally at the mercy of the speed ‘of the line’. Linhart describes two west African migrant workers, treated as 4th class workers during the work-day, dressing in their finest clothes and coiffed hair on the Friday afternoon in the works changing room, asserting their individuality and self-respect after another week of toil.

Similarly the first scene of the book describes Linhart’s first encounter with the inside of the car factory. Like Scott’s Weapons of the Weak, he shows how workers which from first glance are just mere appendages of their machines, repeating the same task every minute for hours and hours, actually are never totally transformed into robots, but, in minute and almost imperceptible ways, resist. Whether it is speeding up ones work on the line to have a quick cigarette or a 20 second chat to a workmate, or even just wiping the sweat of ones face, the dehumanising effects of the work can never have total domination.

This is a brilliant book.

The War of the End of the World, Mario Vargas Llosa, 1985 Faber & Faber
This was a book that got me interested in millenarianism, and especially the relationship of religion to revolutionary politics. Llosa’s book is a work of historical fiction based on the millenarian movement in Canudos, in the North Eastern state of Bahai in Brazil from 1893-1896, led by a prophet called Antonio the Counsellor. Following on from the account by Euclides Da Cunha in Rebellion in the Backlands, which offers a non-literary account of the movement and its annihilation by the then Republican government, it describes the rise and fall of an authentic movement of the oppressed – of runaway slaves, of indigenous peoples, of ‘cangaceiro’ bandits (those who like Hobsbawm’s book bandits will find this element interesting). The movements exalted language of the coming apocalypse, of the final confrontation with the forces of evil, which will bring salvation and a world without sin, oppression, and hunger, challenges our secular, rationalist and Enlightenment-influenced assumptions about what constitutes a ‘revolutionary’ movement. The character Galileo Gall – the world-travelling revolutionary and anarchist – who has to come to terms with the movements failure to fit into predefined limits of what constitutes a ‘true’ modern revolutionary movement, is the most compelling of the book. Even though he doesn’t recognise his own politics and world view in Canudos, he acknowledges that fighting with the oppressed for a future of universal brotherhood is a moral obligation. Overall a really exciting book which was really tough to put down.

For Marx, Louis Althusser, 1965 (2005 edition) Verso
I finally got round to reading this a month ago after many discussions with friends. At first sceptical – I had read EP Thompson’s Poverty of Theory some time before – the book has done much to challenge many of my preconceived ideas. I am still trying to grapple with many of the issues it brings up.

You can follow Matt on Twitter

Ewa Jasiewicz, trade union organiser and activist writes:
In Greece this summer, whilst staying on the remote, sparsely inhabited (1200 people) Island of Astypalea, I borrowed ‘Journals of Resistance’ by Mikis Theodorakis from the local library. I was riveted and read it in 2 days flat. Theodorakis was a poet, writer and composer of the most well-known Greek folk song you’ve all heard “Zorba’s Dance”. Theodorakis was a leading anti-fascist, communist resistance organiser, jailed numerous times in concentration camps, prisons and house arrest, with his music banned and any distribution or playing of it criminalised by the Greek dictatorship throughout the 70s. His son used to smuggle out his music tapes curled around his coat buttons on trips to Athens. He wrote essays, poems, calls to arms, planned actions, protests, underground coalitions, and in prison took part in mass coordinated protests and hunger strikes. He is still alive today and opposed the recent memoranda. His autobiographical account of some 40 years of resistance covers the German and Italian invasions as well as the monarcho-fascist Greek regime. This book details the political wrangling and conflicts between the Communist Party politbüros inside and outside Greece and Theodorakis’s own attempts to forge a radical culture to support a mass ‘Front of Life’ – a participatory, revolution of ‘everyday life’ cultural movement. This is a revelatory and beautiful book.

One fault in the story and process is the notable lack of womens’ voices and participation in the movement. The discourse of patriotism explicitly focuses on male responsibility and male power, women, including his own wife appear to be categorised into gendered roles of supporters, nurturers, but not instigators and equals. There is one point when Theodorakis sedates his wife because she has become so sick of living under house arrest and being subjected to humiliating searches by the Greek military police. What the lack of equal participation reveals is why the Front of Life if it is dominated by patriarchy cannot become a real, thriving, radical place of joint struggle and creation of alternatives when a whole part of humanity is missing. It’s obvious to women and more conscious readers and less so to those reproducing partiarchy and benefiting from its’ privileges unaware. Having also read the brilliant Killing Rage, Ending Racism by bell hooks just before this book, ‘Journals of Resistance’ show us that the paradigm for effective organising which can build powerful coalitions and movements capable of tackling the ongoing dictatorship of capital cannot win if they are not accessible, diverse and actively working to stop our reproduction or as hooks keeps naming it, White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

You can follow Ewa on Twitter 

 
Creston Davis, founder of the GCAS – Global Center for Advanced Studies
For years I’m been working on a poetic algorithm of revolution so I’m totally into Diane di Prima’s works esp. here Revolutionary Letters

She’s perhaps one of the most significant under appreciated American poets alive. I like to record her poems and go on long runs and listen to them. There’s a beautiful mathematics to her work that strangely follows

Here are the three books I’m currently reading

Kasama Project – Nine Letters to Our Comrades:

I love to read letters between lovers, especially these letters by Rosa Luxemburg

I got into playing music about four years ago and although I love the chello I’m obsessed with Franz Liszt. So I’m reading: Franz Liszt – The Virtuoso Years 1811-1847 

You can follow Creston on Facebook 

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