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Book Reviews: 'The Dictators - Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia', & 'After Socialism - Reconstructing Critical Social Thought'

Hitler and Stalin

'The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia'. By Richard Overy. (Penguin, £9.99)

The image of capitalism

We review Naomi Klein's passionate exposé, No Logo. But what does she suggest we do?

In No logo (Flamingo, £14.99) Naomi Klein tells the story of the rise of the brand name, the way in which this typified in a logo has achieved a position way beyond ordinary advertising and in so doing has had an impact on the lives of many people. Her study is based on researching and exposing the operations of some powerful firms, such as Nike, Wal-Mart, Shell, McDonalds, Microsoft and quite a few more.

What happened was that in the late 70s and 80s the rôle of the logo, in the beginning only seen on clothing, escalated from a small emblem, discreetly placed on say the inside of the collar to a position of prominence:

The allotments

They had been there for years. My wife had had one for at least 25 years. The soil was terrible; it had taken years of applying compost to make it anything like half decent. By age-old custom and probably some by-laws from before the industrial revolution councils are obliged to provide sites for allotments for those who want one, but that does not mean that they have to care about what sort of ground you get.

In the beginning we all paid our rent directly to the Council. This was not particularly satisfactory since they had a whole list of rules and regulations and were very strict about keeping at least two-thirds cultivated at all times, otherwise you were not renewed. This could be difficult in cases of illness or adversity. I remember there was a rather nice little gorse bush which I wanted to keep to shelter a hedgehog and a small pond for the frogs, but these had to go.

Danger: pills for profit

One would have to be remarkably unaware of what is happening in the world today not to know that society was facing a drug problem. A drug problem on a scale which is costing thousands of lives and untold millions of pounds to control. This is not a question of Chinese opium rings in Soho – it is a social menace which affects society as a whole across age and class.

The government is worried, the police are pretty much baffled but nobody really knows what to do. We hear of spectacular police 'busts' where they come across huge amounts of drugs with a street value of millions of pounds but it doesn't seem to make much difference to the overall picture. Apparently this is a problem that has no solution. In a probably futile attempt to control it the government in Britain is considering making some drugs such as cannabis, legal or rather partially legal. One question that never seems to get asked though is – why?

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