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Book Reviews: 'Fighting Fascism', 'Poverty Safari - Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass', & 'Marx’s Theory of the Genesis of Money'

Misreading fascism

'Fighting Fascism'. By Carla Zetkin, (edited by Mike Taber and John Riddell. Haymarket, £10.99)

This booklet reproduces two main writings of Zetkin on fascism: her report and resolution presented at the Third Enlarged Plenum of the Communist International's Executive Committee in June 1923, and her speech to the German Reichstag in 1932.

Carla Zetkin was an iconic left-wing German Marxist and close friend of Rosa Luxemburg who opted for the political line taken by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, becoming a champion of the Third International. She stayed on the side of the Third International although not without some regrets, even during the rise and 'splendour’ of Stalinism.

Exhibition Review: Syria - Story of a Conflict

Nearly half a million people have been killed in Syria since the current fighting began in  2011, and around 11 million forced from their homes. An exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North in Salford Quays, on till the end of May, examines some of the history and issues involved. As noted, it is ‘a war of narratives’, with all sides competing to tell their own version of what is happening. Whether particular groups are described as rebels or terrorists can have a major impact on how other people see the conflict.

Book Reviews: 'Not a Crime to Be Poor - the Criminalization of Poverty in America', 'A Party With Socialists In It - A History of the Labour Left', & 'The Kronstadt Uprising'

One Law for the poor

'Not a Crime to Be Poor: the Criminalization of Poverty in America'. By Peter Edelman (The New Press $26.95)

In 2010 sixteen-year-old Kalief Browder was charged with stealing a backpack. The judge set bail at $3000, but his family could not afford this. He refused to plead guilty to a crime he had not committed, and so was sent to the notorious Rikers Island jail in New York City. He spent three years there awaiting trial, eight hundred days of this in solitary confinement. He was eventually released (never having been tried, let alone found guilty), but now had severe mental health problems and committed suicide in 2015.

Book Reviews: 'Capitalism’s Contradictions', 'Lenin on Cooperatives - & Other Articles on Marxism, Philosophy and Society', & 'The Vest Pocket Kodak & the First World War'

Breakdown theory

'Capitalism’s Contradictions. Studies in economic theory before and after Marx'. By Henryk Grossman (Haymarket Paperbacks. Chicago)

For a long while it was only by reputation that Grossman was known in the English-speaking world as a collapse of capitalism theorist, as his 1929 book The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System was not available in English translation until 1992, though Paul Mattick had publicised his theory in the 1930s. Grossman was an admirer of state capitalist Russia even under Stalin and died in 1950 in East Germany.

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