Reviews

Paul Huxtable, Al Fingers and Mandeep Samra: Sound System Culture – Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems (One Love Books, 2014) (Book Review)

Paul Huxtable, Al Fingers and Mandeep Samra: Sound System Culture – Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems

(One Love Books, 2014)

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If Canada came off badly in the review above it’s purely because it seems slightly less exciting than the reggae scene in one town in the north of England. This is an impressive book: 10 inches square (same size as a dubplate), hardbound, thick paper. But most of all, lots and lots of amazing photos of Huddersfield soundsystems and the groups of people who ran them back in the day. The scene is set with some introductory text about the history of Jamaica and migration to London along with the usual photos of Windrush and sharply dressed first generation immigrants. It pains me to say it, but there is too much London in this book, worthwhile as it is. The first section does include a lovely shot of a 1976 dominos contest at the Derby West Indian Association though.

But all this is just preamble for the main event: Lush photos of blokes looking sharp. Blokes in garish 1970s living rooms, blokes fiddling with amazing gnarly pre-amps, groups of blokes styling for the camera at the beginning of a night out. All black, working class, dedicated to the hard work of humping speaker boxes around town, putting wires together, selecting tunes that will smash up a dance. The smiles and fashion of the portraits are in stark contrast to the drab shots of 70s and 80s Huddersfield town centre. If London was alienating for black kids at that time, the provinces (as I shall rudely call them) must have been doubly arduous. Michael Moore (aka Bones from Jah Lion sound) relates how he left Jamaica solo at 14 to come to Huddersfield to be reunited with his younger brother and mother, neither of whom he had seen for 4 years. And it was cold. Hard times. [Read more →]

Die Revolution war für mich ein grosses Abenteuer – Paul Mattick im Gespräch mit Michael Buckmiller (Book Review)

Die Revolution war für mich ein grosses
Abenteuer
Paul Mattick im
Gespräch mit Michael Buckmiller
Edited, introduced and annotated by Christoph Plutte und Marc Geoffroy,
With literary texts by Paul Mattick and an afterword by Michael Buckmiller,
Dissidenten der Arbeiterbewegung IV
Unrast Verlag, Münster, 2013.
ISBN 978-3-89771-520-2

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Towards the end of last year, the fourth volume in the series Dissidents of the Workers Movement from Unrast publishing appeared. The series was started with a certain enthusiasm in 2008/9. Anthologies of the writings of Cajo Brendel, Raya Dunayevskaya, and Christian Riechers were published. All three are well recommended (note that the Dunayevskaya book in this series is a translation from the English), as they feature hard to find and important texts of different currents of anti-Leninist Marxism. Unfortunately, after the first three volumes came out, there was a pause in publication for several years before this fourth edition was finally released.

The new volume differs from the previous ones insofar that it isn’t an anthology of texts, but the transcript of an interview, which Michael Buckmiller conducted with the council communist and crisis theoretician Paul Mattick (1904-81) in 1976, titled The Revolution Was a Big Adventure for Me.
Buckmiller published his dissertation about Karl Korsch in the same year and had been the editor of Korsch’s collected works since 1980. He met Mattick in the context of his research. The extensive interview focuses on Mattick’s biography, which is an anomaly insofar that Mattick mostly put his personality in the background. [Read more →]

Jim Higgins: More Years for the Locust – The Origins of the SWP (Book Review)

Jim Higgins
More Years for the
Locust – The Origins of the SWP
Unkant Publishers, London, 2011.
ISBN 978-0-9568176-3-1

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Jim Higgins (1930-2002) was amongst the relatively large number of militants who left the ‘official’ (i.e. Stalinist) Communist Party in 1956 after the shattering experiences of reading Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’, which denounced the crimes of Stalin, and the crushing of the Hungarian uprising. First, he joined ‘The Club’, a splinter from the erstwhile Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) lead by Gerry Healy, which was to become the Socialist Labour League, and later the Workers Revolutionary Party. Soon after, he joined the small Socialist Review Group (founded 1950) around Tony Cliff, which had also grown out of the RCP. This group would later turn into the International Socialists, which later became the Socialist Workers Party.
The topic of Higgins’ book is exactly this pre-history of the SWP. [Read more →]

Michael Landmann: Das Israelpseudos der Pseudolinken (Book Review)

Michael Landmann
Das Israelpseudos der Pseudolinken
Edited by Jan Gerber and Anja Worm for the ‘Materialien zur Aufklärung und Kritik’ (Halle),
With a preface by Henryk M. Broder and an afterword by Jan Gerber and Anja Worm.
Ça ira, Freiburg i.Br., 2013.
ISBN 978-3-86259-119-0

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In 1969, a string of terror attacks against Jewish institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany began, most notably the attempt to blow up the Jewish Community centre in West Berlin on the anniversary of the Nazi pogroms known as ‘Kristallnacht’ of 1938. Contrary to earlier anti-semitic activities, such as desecrations of Jewish graveyards attributed to neo-Nazis, this new wave was perpetrated by ‘left wing’ activists.

Central to the agenda of the New Left in the early to mid-1960s was the exposure of the lack of decisive de-Nazification and the survival of Nazism within West German society, particularly in the establishment. Until the year 1967, or more precisely until the Six-Day War, the German Left had been essentially pro-Israel. Then some voices in the ‘New Left’ spoke up, wanting to see the conflict in the Middle East as a particularly exemplary version of a world wide conflict between ‘imperialism’ and ‘national liberation movements’. [Read more →]

Invincible Tedium – On the Lyrics of Tony Wakeford

From the booklet 'The Unconquered Sun'. London: Sol Books, 1989

From the booklet ‘The Unconquered Sun’. London: Sol Books, 1989

When this travelling correspondent examined, as she habitually does, the bargain basement boxes of a second hand CD and record shop in the English seaside town where she sought refuge from a heatwave designed to punish mankind for its sins, she came across Sol Veritas Lux, a CD containing the first two LPs by a band called Sol Invictus. As she had read about this outfit (in datacide, but chiefly on the web pages of Who Makes the Nazis)1 but had never actually heard their music she thought it not excessive to invest one (currently, though, very expensive) pound Sterling on some enlightenment in this murky area. The bandleader of the (in spite of the Latin name) very English ‘Invincible Sun’ is Tony Wakeford,2 a man who has asserted in numerous interviews and statements that he is not (anymore) a member of a fascist party (he had at a time been a member of the National Front) without ever, though, being very clear about why not. (I mention this because people leave parties or other rackets either because they have a change of heart about the ideas, ideals, goals, values involved, or because they find the respective party or racket fails to serve these ideas well enough. In the absence of any substantive evidence suggesting otherwise, it has to be assumed Wakeford’s is the second case: in various interviews with fanzines that are available on the internet he only ever makes comments that imply a critique of how the fascist party he was in operated, but nothing substantive concerning fascism as such.)3 ‘Sol Veritas Lux’ consists of ‘Against the Modern World’, the 1988 debut album of Sol Invictus and a follow up live album originally released shortly thereafter, ‘In the Jaws of the Serpent’,4 containing some of the same and some other songs.

The most prominent characteristic of this album is its [Read more →]

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