Book reviews

Issue: 107
Posted: 30 June 05

Hassan Mahamdallie et al.

More than the mosque

Hassan Mahamdallie

A review of Humayun Ansari, The Infidel Within: Muslims in Britain since 1800 (Hurst & Company, 2004), £16.50

Can history teach us anything about a political approach to Britain’s Muslims, and how we should regard them in terms of race and class? Ansari’s fascinating and wide-ranging book The Infidel Within has pointers to the answers we need.

The book, subtitled ‘Muslims in Britain since 1800’, is a historical, political and social survey of Muslims touching on many aspects, including the position of Muslim women in society, the founding of early mosques, Muslims and education, Muslim religious and political movements, and the vexed question of British Muslim identities.

The first point Ansari makes is important – the diversity of those who describe themselves as Muslims. Today there are maybe as many as 1.8 million Muslims in Britain. If you go to the big mosques, such as Regents Park Mosque, you will observe a simple truth: to be a Muslim is not a racial classification. There are Muslims in this country from up to 50 different ethnic backgrounds – from Arabs to Somalis to Bosnians to Indonesians to white English converts, North Africans and so on.

Some are rich migrants from the Gulf, but most are South Asian, working class and economically disadvantaged, with groups such as Bangladeshis very poor. (Government figures show one in eight of Pakistani male workers drive cabs, while 50 percent of Bangladeshi men work in the restaurant trade.)1

As Ansari writes:

‘Any presumptions of Muslim homogeneity and coherence which claim to override the differences between rural and urban, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, do not necessarily correspond to social reality. A Sylheti from Bangladesh, apart from some tenets of faith, is likely to have little in common with a Mirpuri from Pakistan, let alone a Somali or a Bosnian Muslim. Values, symbols and aspirations, approaches to issues of identity, strength of adherence to ritual and loyalty to kin networks, and the form and nature of institutions are likely to be extremely varied, making Muslims in Britain a very heterogeneous population’. (p3)

British Muslim Asian ethnic groupings are targeted both for their race and their religion. This duality is one that, for example, the BNP have sought to exploit. Ansari shows that historically hatred towards Muslims centred on racism has also been sometimes expressed as religious hatred and vice versa – often simultaneously. (In the BNP’s eyes you can be guilty of the dual ‘crime’ of being a ‘Paki’ and a ‘Muslim’.)

Islam came out of 7th century Arabia and as a highly successful social, political and economic formation spread its empire into Europe and Asia. At that time Britain was not important. The odd Arab sailor or pirate landed on the south coast to take provisions – or sometimes to snatch captives back to North Africa. One of the first recorded Muslim visitors was a traveller called Al Idrisi – a North African Arab patronised by Sicilian kings who toured the West of England in the early 1100s.

With the rise of the Ottoman Empire there began more formal links. In 1588 Elizabeth I offered a treaty to ally with Ottoman Sultan Murad III against Catholic Spain. Elizabeth considered Islam closer to Protestantism than the Catholics were, whom she considered idolaters (for worshipping statues). Under Elizabeth, Muslim traders were given protection in England, and in return English traders were given free passage in Muslim territories.

So the English were not unaccustomed to Muslims, and writings from the time, including Shakespeare, burst with both fascination and fear for these traders, soldiers and diplomats.

Thousands of English mercenaries served under rulers in North Africa and Turkey where they might convert to Islam. Muslims could be feared (for their armies), objects of curiosity (for their religion and cultural ways), admired (for their trading skills), and so on – but they were never regarded as inferior. In fact, if anything, they were resented because of their superiority.

Small groups of Muslims began to settle in Britain. We know that by 1627 there was a ‘community’ of poor Muslims living in central London. They mingled with poor whites and became tailors, shoemakers, pedlars and button makers. (p27)
The British Empire changed this fluid situation in two ways.

Firstly, it encouraged a larger flow of people across the globe. These included Muslims from the region around the Suez Canal, particularly Yemenis, Adenese, Sudanese and Somalis from the north of their country (which was then the British protectorate of Somaliland). Many began to settle in Britain.

By 1911 Cardiff was the ‘black’ capital of Britain with 700 African and Arab residents who were mostly Muslim. Muslims (Arabs and Indians) could also be found in Scotland, in areas such as Dundee, Ben Lomond, Aberdeen, Dumbarton and Clydebank. Many were ex-sailors turned door to door salesmen and small traders. The Scottish urban areas were ‘where these disciples of the prophet of Mecca wander’.

Brick Lane and Cable Street in London’s East End used to be the haunt of African Muslim sailors, with attendant coffee houses and boarding houses, as late as the 1950s. They were then joined by a new and larger wave of Muslim migration from Bangladesh.

Secondly, as the British Empire grew the ruling class shifted in the middle of the 19th century from propping up the fading 400 year old Ottoman Empire to challenging it and taking it over. This produced differing, changing and sometimes violent attitudes to Muslims from the establishment.

Imperialists began to consistently portray the fading Ottoman Empire as the enemy and its official religion as part of the problem. The only solution therefore was to take them over – colonise them and purge their religion. This bred at home a chauvinist reaction against Muslims and their identity became transformed into the ‘heathens in our midst’.

Where Islam was regarded as a challenge to Christian colonial rule it was denigrated and its followers abused. In 1835 Macaulay wrote his infamous ‘Minute on Education’ over British policy in India and demanded total assimilation of Muslims to English ‘taste, opinions, morals, and intellect’.

William Muir wrote his notorious diatribe against Islam, Life of Mohamet: ‘The sword of Mohamet and the Koran are the most fatal enemies of civilisation, liberty and the truth the world has ever known.’ Muir believed Islam a false religion that kept Muslims in ‘a backward and…barbarous state’. (p61)

British rulers used anti-Muslim prejudice to justify their imperial adventures. Later on in the 19th century – when Britain came into direct military conflict with Turkey over control of the Middle East – the Liberal prime minister, William Gladstone, deliberately stoked up anti-Muslim feeling to justify war. He called the Koran ‘that accursed book’ and branded Muslims as ‘anti-human specimens of humanity’. In the First World War the Turkish ruling class sided with Germany. Muslims in Britain were looked upon suspiciously as ‘un-British’, while the Liberal prime minister, Lloyd George, dubbed military operations in Palestine as ‘the British Crusade’(p80):

‘We are undertaking a great civilising duty – a mission which Providence had assigned our race, which we are discharging to people living under the shadow of great tyranny, trembling with fear, appealing with uplifted hands for our protection. Turkish misgovernment…shall come to an end now that Britain and the Allies have triumphed’. (p90)

One spin-off from the First World War was the 1919 ‘race riots’ against black sailors. The underlying condition that led to the riots was economic competition. Sailors discharged back into civilian life from the Royal Navy found black sailors, including Arabs and East Africans, employed in the merchant navy. The 1919 riots are commonly described as against ‘black’ people, but closer scrutiny shows that within that umbrella term there were many Muslim victims, including Somalis hunted down by mobs in Cardiff.2

After 1919 the National Union of Seamen (which was at this time very right wing) and the shipping bosses did a deal to keep out black sailors. The NUS had a ‘British First’ policy, stating that black sailors be picked last and that they go on a forced rota, which meant they had to take any job (most often the worst) offered them or lose all rights to a job and residency.

Arab and African sailors launched a campaign to smash the rota, saying that no one should sign up to it, and picketed shipping offices trying to get the union’s position changed, but their pickets were broken up and many arrested were deported. They were blocked in the union, despite the fact that their union subs kept the NUS afloat.

Some sailors began to search for political allies. They looked to radical forces in the union and British society and joined the Communist Party Seamen’s Minority Movement and the Colonial Defence Association (also CP-dominated). Ultimately the black sailors lost the battle after the NUS successfully lobbied that shipping bosses be given a government subsidy for every white sailor they hired. However, the Muslim sailors were so radicalised that one moderate anti-racist campaigner complained that Cardiff was full of black Communists! (p113)

The authorities went further on the attack on the very citizenship of the sailors – despite the fact that most of them were from the British Empire and ‘entitled’ to come to Britain. New laws demanded strict proof of identity. Sailors had to carry ID cards with a photo and a fingerprint on it (apparently a picture wasn’t good enough because the police said they couldn’t tell blacks apart!). (p109)

Even though they were herded into ghettos, that didn’t stop those hostile to them claiming that they were self-segregating (living in a comfort zone in today’s parlance), and it was their religion, Islam, with its rigid social code, that was at fault.

A Muslim youth leader, H Hasan, rightly protested, ‘We were born in this country and we expect to enjoy all the privileges afforded other British youth and are opposed to discrimination on account of colour or race.’

Ansari shows how these early struggles anticipated and prefigured later and larger movements and political interventions in the 1960 and 1970s, and today.

He shows us that Muslims have always made an impression on Britain; that they have been here a long time; that they carried their religion with them, but were prepared to enter the social and political arena to fight for their rights, despite being victims of racism and prejudice transferred from the world stage.

Muslims in Britain have always been very active, ready to form alliances, by and large integrated on a class-conscious basis. Today we see them organising themselves through the anti-war movement and subsequent political formations on a scale that the Somalis in Butetown could only dream of. Yet the struggle is the same.

NOTES

1: See H Mahamdallie, ‘Racism: Myths and Realities’, International Socialism 95 (summer 2002).
2: See P Fryer, Staying Power: A History of Black People in Britain (London, 1984).

It can’t stop Blair

Mike Haynes

A review of China Mieville, Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (Brill, Historical Materialism book series, 2005), Euro 69

Did Tony Blair break international law in his support for the American invasion of Iraq? Could he be successfully prosecuted in an international court? As evidence accumulates of the murky dealings that led to war more and more people are coming to the conclusion that there is a legal case to answer. China Mieville would disagree, not because Blair’s actions weren’t ‘criminal’, but because international law does not work in this way. Moreover it is an illusion, he argues, to think that it could ever be made to function in a fundamentally different way.

Mieville will be well known to readers of this journal as a leading writer of science fiction in the UK. Here he pioneers something quite different – the Marxist critique of international law. The result is a significant book which, if parts are not for the fainthearted, nevertheless establishes some very important ideas that will influence not only the debate about Iraq and other Western interventions but the whole approach to international law.

An obvious question to those who want to see Blair in court is, who would arrest him and try him? But even if this could be answered it by no means follows that there is a strong legal case against him. This is not simply because of the ambiguities of the evidence but also the ambiguities of the law itself. This does not mean that Blair was right. It means that trying to condemn him in terms of international law is not the right way to attack him. Mieville points out for example that if there is ambiguity in the law about Iraq there might well be other wars which were less ambiguous in law but no less objectionable politically. But if the argument is left simply at the level of law then we might be forced to support them. The same applies to Iraq. No one has put the legal doubts about Iraq more eloquently than Robin Cook, but suppose for a moment (a fantasy!) that these were tested in some international court and there was found to be no case to answer. Would Cook then hold his hands up and say, ‘I was wrong and you were right Tony, it was legal, I should have supported you…’? As Mieville puts it, ‘A lawful war is not necessarily a just, prudent or humanitarian war.’

A supporter of international law would argue that Blair and Bush would have to be found guilty because the evidence and law to interpret it is so clearly against them. But Mieville suggests that this is not the case at all. Any state could find a basis in law for almost any action, because ‘for every claim there is a counter-claim, and legalist opposition to war is therefore ultimately toothless’.

Why should this be so? Three main positions commonly influence the discussion of this problem. Realists see the basis of global relations in the clash of state power. They are sceptical of ideas like globalisation and sceptical of the idea of international society. For them international law is no more than ‘a moralistic gloss on power politics’. It plays a useful role in obscuring the extent to which power is still the central determinant of how the world works. If a conflict emerges between the ‘gloss’ and state needs then realpolitik dictates the impotence of international law before power.

Against this supporters of international law argue that it exists above states and can therefore constrain their actions. It must represent some natural conception of what is right or it must develop into a rational set of rules that states can be persuaded to agree to. In either form it can be a force of stability and progress. If this is not yet fully the case then this is because the law needs to be further strengthened and then enforced.

The third and most critical view is associated with the left. This is less idealistic. It largely accepts the role of power and it looks at the way in which all law is conditioned by social interests and not least capitalist interests. But it still aspires to use law for progressive ends. Law, writes Susan Marks, is ‘a strategic tool, which can be used for both good ends and bad ones, to constrain violence and to legitimise it’. The task for the left is to struggle to use and expand this space.

Mieville recognises the importance of this critical approach to the understanding of law but he argues that it does not go far enough. It especially fails for international law. This is not because international law is not real law (as a realist might suggest) and can therefore be dismissed. International law is essential to the way global capitalism works. When, for example, Robin Cook writes that ‘for the neo-conservatives around George Bush it was a guiding principle that the US should undertake no policy that conferred validity on the concept of international law’ (Guardian, 25 March 2005) he is simply wrong. The US wants and needs international law – consider the issue of patent protection or intellectual property rights, and so on. Yet it also needs its own freedom of manoeuvre. Because the US is the world’s most powerful state it has a greater capacity to manage and twist things to its own advantage, but all states reflect this ambiguity and thus so does international law. Mieville notes, for example, that all states have a right to exist and war is only justified in terms of self-defence, but he also notes that there is an equally long history in international law where (and this must give Blair comfort) ‘great powers have always asserted a right of intervention in the affairs of small countries’.

To understand why this is we have to appreciate how international law emerges at the intersection of two processes. One was the development of the nation-state system, the other was the rise of capitalism. Mieville argues that these are not separate or autonomous processes but developments that fed off and supported one another. He thus has much to say of historical interest on the way in which law developed in the context of the shift from feudalism to capitalism and the nature of that shift. But his central theoretical point is that capitalism is a system of both commodity competition and inter-state competition and this must be reflected in both the existence and the ambiguity of the international order and its legal expressions.

One thread here is the contribution of the great Soviet legal theorist Evgeny Pashukanis before he became a victim of Stalin. Mieville builds on his analysis to show the role of commodity production in the development of law. The rise of law, Mieville suggests, has to be understood in the context of ‘market relations generalising globally, in the transition to capitalism’.

Because capitalism is a global system of commodity production organised through competing states, international law can only partially contain states. Inter-state competition is also the instrument through which international law develops. Demonstrating this involves Mieville in a valuable historical analysis of the way international law evolved in the context of colonialism, imperialism, unequal treaties and the like. International law was not only a means by which global capitalism incorporated non-capitalist parts of the world; it was also an expression of the dominance of the powerful imperialist nations. Thus those supporters of international law who try to counterpose it to imperialism misunderstand its historical roots – imperialism made international law, and international law helped make imperialism and it continues to do so today. ‘Coercive political violence – imperialism – is the very means by which international law is made actual.’

International law cannot therefore transcend the system which gives rise to it. The legalistic argument is not only wrong because it cannot work. It is also wrong because those who support it fail to reflect on why international law is so ambiguous and limited. As capitalism changes so will international law, but it cannot be the means to overcome the major contradictions of the system from within. In this sense, says Mieville, international law is ‘fundamentally unreformable… I see no prospect of a systematic progressive political project or an emancipatory dynamic coming out of international law.’ This is an important conclusion based on a deep and impressive analysis of the law, its origin and history and current state and it makes a major contribution to the way we think about the world. It is well worth ordering through your library.

Pioneer of liberation

Hazel Croft

A review of Barbara Taylor, Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge, 2003), £16.99 and Lyndall Gordon, Mary Wollstonecraft: A New Genus (Virago, 2005), £25

Over 200 years after her death at the young age of 38 the life, writings and ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft still provoke interest, fascination and debate. Successive generations of socialists, feminists and radical thinkers have turned to her writings – most famously A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) – and adopted them for their cause. But who was the real Mary Wollstonecraft? The latest biography to hit the bookshops and review columns is Mary Wollstonecraft: A New Genus by Lyndall Gordon. It’s a racy account of her life, love affairs and her involvement in radical causes. But Gordon has a very shallow understanding of how Wollstonecraft’s ideas developed in the context of the momentous revolutionary events of the late 18th century and their impact in Britain.

If you want a much greater insight I would recommend instead Barbara Taylor’s recent thorough and serious examination of Wollstonecraft’s thought. Taylor has produced some of the best writings on women’s history: some readers of this journal will have read her wonderful history of women’s involvement in the Owenite movement, Eve and the New Jerusalem. Taylor applies a similar rigorous historical approach to Mary Wollstonecraft, attempting to rescue her writings both from her opponents but also from those admirers who, in adopting her for their own causes, have mis-represented and distorted her thinking.

As Taylor puts it, ‘Perched on her pedestal, Wollstonecraft has acquired a mythic patina that blurs and distorts her historical contours. Every feminist generation reinvents her.’ But for Taylor, ‘ripping her from her own intellectual world to claim her for ours has had the paradoxical effect of reducing her real intellectual significance’. Taylor does Wollstonecraft the service of treating her array of writings – theory, philosophy and novels – as works to be held up to scrutiny as much as those of Rousseau, Tom Paine and other male figures of the Enlightenment and of the movement of radical dissent in Britain.

Wollstonecraft lived through a period when the American and then the French revolutions totally reshaped the world. Wollstonecraft hailed these revolutionary upheavals as harbingers of a ‘glorious future’. The French Revolution, in particular, had a momentous impact on her and she travelled to revolutionary France in 1793, ‘glad’ to be there during ‘the most extraordinary event that has ever been recorded’. She was, as Taylor says, ‘a proponent of revolutionary democracy’. She visited Paris and defended the revolution during the height of the ‘Terror’ when other figures, such as the poet William Wordsworth, were turning their backs on the revolution. She took on the most vociferous British opponent of the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, and published a marvellous defence of the revolution in her A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790).

Taylor’s study examines in great detail Wollstonecraft’s debates with Rousseau and other Enlightenment philosophers, looks at her relationship to the tradition of radical dissent in Britain, and puts her ideas alongside other women writers of the day. The central theme of Taylor’s book is that Wollstonecraft’s ideas were much more contradictory and complex than is often portrayed, and steeped in the ideas of the Radical Enlightenment, a movement following the Dutch and English revolutions which challenged the reactionary churches – and the very basis of societies that let them flourish.

There is a long and detailed examination of the contradictory role of religion in her thought: Taylor argues that Wollstonecraft never lost her belief in a personal god and was not the atheist some portray her as. She looks at how feeling, emotion and fantasy were seen to be as much a part of the 18th century ‘Enlightened Mind’ as reason. There is also a very interesting examination of the sexual imagery and eroticism which infused Wollstonecraft’s writings.

Although Taylor uses the label ‘feminist’ in the title of her book, she argues it should be applied only with extreme caution. It was not a word or concept used at the time Wollstonecraft lived, and it attaches to her the ideas and beliefs of her successors.

Wollstonecraft was motivated by her hatred of all injustice and hierarchy and regarded women’s liberation as part of a historic movement towards ‘a new age…of perfect harmony between the aspirations of the individual and the collective needs of humanity as a whole’. Wollstonecraft deliberately linked women’s freedom, argues Taylor, ‘to the elimination of all hierarchical divisions of rank, sex, age, race and wealth’ and so ‘stands well to the left of the feminist spectrum’.

She hated the barriers put upon women, especially the often miserable fate of women who had to struggle to survive without men – a struggle which Mary herself endured as a young woman, trying to survive as a teacher, a governess and a writer. She hated the Marriage Laws which treated women as the property of men. Above all she argued that women’s ‘neglected education’ was the ‘grand source’ of their oppression: ‘Let the practice of every duty be subordinate to the grand one of improving our minds.’

But, Taylor argues, Wollstonecraft’s writings are full of invective against idle rich women who played on and used their supposed ‘feminine’ attributes for their own gain. As Taylor writes, ‘The Rights of Woman castigates its female readers in the harshest terms for classic feminine follies: vanity, irrationalism, intolerance, frivolity, ignorance, cunning, fickleness, indolence, narcissism, infantilism, impiety and, above all, sexual ambition.’ Taylor seems to imply that this signifies a very ambivalent attitude towards women. But I feel that while so many subsequent feminist writers have lumped all women together in a mythical sisterhood, Wollstonecraft is simply not doing this. Wollstonecraft’s rage seems by and large directed against rich women, who idle away the hours reading sentimental trashy novels, and who do not have to struggle for a living. And Wollstonecraft herself pointed out, ‘Considering the length of time that women have been dependent, is it surprising that some of them hug their chains and fawn like a spaniel?’

This is an in-depth academic study, and I wouldn’t recommend it as a first read for those who haven’t previously come across Wollstonecraft. But for anyone familiar with her work and the ideas of the Enlightenment, this is an interesting and thought-provoking read. And why does it matter? Well, says Barbara Taylor, as much as it would ‘be good to be able to bury Mary Wollstonecraft’, history won’t let us. It is the reality of women’s oppression that continues to breathe life into Mary Wollstonecraft. Her call for women’s liberation and for an end to sexual injustice speaks to us still across two centuries, and her life’s work deserves the kind of serious examination undertaken in this book.

From markets to massacres

Dragan Plavsic

A review of Michael Barratt Brown, From Tito to Milosevic: Yugoslavia, a lost country (Merlin Press, 2005), £14.95

During the Cold War, Tito’s Yugoslavia held a special place in the hearts of many on the left who regarded it as a potentially viable ‘socialist’ alternative to both Eastern Bloc totalitarianism and Western capitalism. Today this may well seem outlandish, but there were reasons why many once thought like this. After all, did not Tito’s partisans liberate Yugoslavia from Nazi occupation without direct Soviet help, build a multinational federation, break with Stalin, introduce ‘workers’ self-management’ and help lead the Non-Aligned Movement? By the 1990s, however, as war engulfed Yugoslavia, an insistent question had to be faced: where did it all go wrong?

Michael Barratt Brown is a socialist for whom Tito’s Yugoslavia was special for both personal and political reasons, and so it is fitting that this book1 attempts to answer that insistent question by interweaving personal testimony with economic and political analysis of Yugoslavia’s slide into catastrophe. The author’s long acquaintance with the country began during the Second World War when, serving in Egypt, he met Yugoslav partisans fresh from the anti-Nazi struggle. So impressed was he by them that he abandoned his pacifist Quaker beliefs for the British Communist Party, to which he was recruited by James Klugmann, a notorious Stalinist propagandist. From 1944 until 1947 he worked in Yugoslavia for the United Nations War Relief Mission, and remains justly proud of its achievements. Failing, much to his regret, to break with the party in 1948 over the Tito-Stalin split, Barratt Brown finally broke with it over Hungary in 1956, subsequently helping to found New Left Review and authoring several books.2 He continued to visit Yugoslavia and has maintained an interest in its fortunes ever since.

Barratt Brown’s central argument is that we cannot understand Yugoslavia’s collapse without understanding the long term impact on the country of an increasingly market-based economic policy introduced after the split with Stalin in 1948. This policy loosened the chains of a state centralist economy in favour of a more decentralised market one that gave companies and republics the ‘freedom’ to keep profits and invest them. The result was a steadily widening wealth gap between the stronger economies of the north – Slovenia and Croatia – and the weaker economies of the south – Bosnia, Serbia (especially Kosovo) and Macedonia – cementing what might be called a two-tier Yugoslavia. This gap widened with the opening up of the country to foreign trade as Yugoslav firms sought cheaper manufacturing products and raw materials abroad rather than at home. As imports grew, Yugoslavia turned to IMF loans, paying a heavy price when the IMF demanded, as elsewhere, more market reforms that further raised unemployment and cut living standards. By the 1980s, Yugoslavia was in a severe economic crisis that laid the basis for much of what later followed.

Barratt Brown’s purpose here is to show that the seeds of future discord were sown early by a policy commitment to the market internally and to Yugoslavia’s integration into a global market economy externally. In its essentials this argument is a strong one and draws on now classic works such as Susan Woodward’s Balkan Tragedy. But it is at this point that Barratt Brown’s belief in the socialist credentials of Tito’s Yugoslavia obliges us to confront a profound irony at the heart of his position. What he celebrates as the country’s experiment in ‘economic democracy’ – the ‘workers’ self-management’ in factories and workplaces the Titoists claimed as their unique hallmark – was, in practice, the regime’s cover for the introduction of the very market mechanisms Barratt Brown rightly deplores.

This point will be clearer if we draw a parallel with the market reforms of the NHS so favoured by Tony Blair. Here too the idea is to replace a centralised state-run system with a more decentralised market-based one that gives so-called foundation hospitals the ‘freedom’ to keep surpluses and attract private sector finance. And here too the reform proposals come ready-wrapped in the seductive language of self-management. They will, Blair says, put ‘power in the hand of the patient’ and ‘power into the hands of [healthcare] professionals’.3 But such rhetoric is only cover for the introduction of market mechanisms that are set to create a two-tier NHS as potentially divisive as a two-tier Yugoslavia. It is also cover for the fact that real power is vested not in patients and staff as claimed, but in that contemporary hate figure, the NHS manager; just as in Yugoslavia, as Barratt Brown himself acknowledges, ‘self-management gave great power to those who became managers’, with the Communist Party often ridiculed by his Yugoslav friends as a ‘man