From the blog

Turning a Little Blue

James Butler

24 September 2021

Starmer should feel largely unthreatened from his left. The Corbynite rump in the Labour Party has broadly failed to regroup since 2019, spending much of the pandemic relitigating its defeat. Many left-wingers have disengaged from the party while retaining vestigial membership, giving their attention to less poisonous local issues, community support in the pandemic or climate activism. The left’s counter-festival of socialist ideas, The World Transformed, will be held again in Brighton alongside the sealed tomb of the party conference. Its wide-ranging programme suggests that sincerity, intellectual energy and ambition are still there on the left of the party. But the outcome of its scheduled debate, ‘Starmer Out?’, is academic: even as earnest members wrestle with how best to transform society in response to the climate crisis, the political capacity to realise those ideas ebbs.

 

Black Marseille

Kevin Okoth

For McKay, self-determination was not merely a matter of guaranteeing civil rights or removing the barriers to Black political and economic power – as it was for the NAACP – or of creating a nation wherever Black people were an oppressed minority. The real goal, as he saw it, was to support independent Black organisations that could reinvigorate the American labour movement, something the communists, Garveyites and NAACP had all proved incapable of. 

 

Heat and Force

Patricia Fara

Thethreat of catastrophe is alluring. In 1990, when the existence of global warming was routinely contested, a Nasa scientist spoke frankly on television: ‘It’s easier to get funding if you can show evidence of impending human disasters … Science benefits from scary scenarios.’ Last year, the Doomsday Clock was set to a hundred seconds before midnight, indicating...

 

Who owns the oil?

Laleh Khalili

Rotterdam​ city centre sits a few miles inland from the North Sea, its skyscrapers and office buildings lining the New Meuse River, a tributary of the Rhine. A ferry tour takes you past ship repair yards, grain silos, terminals receiving coal and iron ore for Ruhr Valley industries, and even a massive orange juice storage facility that receives its cargo from Latin America. If you want to...

 

Fondness for Yiddish

William Pimlott

‘Even the stones speak Hebrew,’ the Yiddish poet Yosef Papyernikov complained in 1949. He first visited the Jewish homeland in 1924, then returned briefly to Poland, where he was born, before settling in Jerusalem. Like other supporters of Yiddish, he condemned the Zionist insistence on Hebrew as the official language of the new Jewish state. ‘The authorities in Israel not...

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The Children of God

Tabitha Lasley

Faith Morgan​’s memoir opens in her attic, where her teenage son has stumbled on a cache of newspaper cuttings about the Children of God, forcing her to confront memories she’s spent most of her adult life trying to evade. The Children of God was founded in America in 1968 by a man called David Berg. Former members include River and Joaquim Phoenix, Rose McGowan and the writer...

Diary

Wild Beasts

Fraser MacDonald

Iknow​ the road to Abriachan better on the map than on the ground. I can trace it back and forth up the hill as it rises above the old graveyard at Killianan, through the hazel woods, out to the open ground by Balchraggan, past the Balbeg mill that belonged, my father told me, to his great-grandfather. Abriachan is the place of my father’s people, a district of crofts plotted across a...

 

Indexing

Anthony Grafton

Indexes aretrouble. If you index your own work, you have to chew your cabbage twice, and then again, and again. You must reread the text that seemed so cogent when you sent it to the publisher – not to mention when you revised it, following the advice of your editor and referees, and when you answered the copy editor’s queries, and when you read the proofs. As you collect...

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