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“A wonderfully written book combining the politics of health with the experience of having cancer”

Dr. Jenny Edge blogs about The Price of Experience: Read more

Courageous and prophetic: Tony Benn in the early 80s

Red Pepper, March 14, 2014

Mike Marqusee remembers one of the great modern communicators of the socialist cause

It was inevitable that Tony Benn’s death would be met with tributes from
the political establishment to the effect that they admired him even if
they didn’t agree with him. But for those of us who did agree with him,
his life and death mean so much more. Read more

The British anti-war movement should be standing with anti-war protesters in Russia

antiwar-moscowThe argument against Western imperialism can only be strengthened by a firm opposition to other imperialisms, argues Mike Marqusee

Red Pepper blog, 5 March 2014

It really should be easy enough to condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine while at the same time rejecting and campaigning against US-EU military intervention. Sadly, there are some in the anti-war movement who see this as an awkward proposition. Read more

Clay vs Liston: how a new horizon was opened

Fifty years ago, Cassius Clay “shook up the world” by winning the heavyweight title – and embracing the Nation of Islam

by Mike Marqusee

On the night of February 25, 1964, the 22 year old Cassius Clay defeated the supposedly undefeatable Sonny Liston to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. It was an upset of historic proportions – Liston had been an eight-to-one favourite – and a shock to the sports-writing fraternity, which had written off Clay as a self-publicising loudmouth.

But the result in the ring was to prove only a prelude to a series of greater shocks. Read more

The Times They Are A-Changin’ – fifty years on

The Guardian, 22 February, 2014

Fifty years ago this month, the 22 year old Bob Dylan released his third album, The Times They Are A-Changin, the acme and as it turned out the end of his “protest” period. Dylan renounced this genre so quickly, and took his fans on such a giddy journey afterwards, that there’s a tendency to downplay the extraordinary achievement and impact of his work in this brief initial phase of a long career.

As a collection, the album is one of the high watermarks of political song-writing in any musical genre. These are beautifully crafted, tightly-focussed mini-masterpieces. And they have a radical edge, a political toughness, that one rarely finds in the folk music of the period. Abstract paeans to peace and brotherhood were not for Dylan; the songs are uncompromising in their anger and unsparing in their analysis. Read more

The Nazi Olympics – a missed opportunity?

As Gareth Edwards’ reminds us in his excellent letter in today’s Guardian, Jesse Owens was able to give the Nazis that slap-in-the-face at the 1936 Berlin Olympics because the boycott campaign preceding it had not been strong enough to stop the US, British and other national Olympic authorities from taking part. In the US, as Gareth notes, there was a serious, well-publicised campaign to press the reactionary US Olympic elite to withdraw from the games. It was very much a ‘popular front’ era campaign, aiming to build a wide coalition against fascism. (Opposition to the boycott by sections of the US Jewish leadership proved to be one of several obstacles the campaign encountered.)

It’s interesting to speculate about what might have happened had the boycott campaign – in US, Britain and elsewhere – been successful. Read more