The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising is fast approaching. The latest issue of the Irish Marxist Review commemorates with a special issue. Kieran Allen assesses the myths and reality of the rising, Mary Smith reveals the neglected history of women in the battles for independence, while Conor Kostick applies the same treatment to the role of the working class. Dave Sherry looks at the impact of events in Ireland on the “Red Clydeside” revolt in Glasgow. In his editorial, John Molyneux reflects on the hypocrisy of mainstream Irish politicians who celebrate the events of 100 years ago “with full pomp and circumstance” while at the same time condemning “anyone who protests with the least vigour or militancy today”.
The January issue of the Critical Muslim journal is titled “Extreme”. It features articles by Anne Alexander on ISIS, on class conflict in early Islam by Benedikt Koehler, Islamophobia and US national security by Gordon Blaine Steffey, contemporary art and religious offence by Samir Younés, a review of Arun Kundnani’s The Muslims Are Coming! by Talat Ahmed and a blistering attack on the extremism of the new atheists by the Guardian’s Andrew Brown.
The Socialist History Society has added a new pamphlet to its occasional publication series—on historian Eric Hobsbawm, who died in 2012. The pamphlet is based on the speeches at a conference in 2013 celebrating Hobsbawm’s life, it details his extensive contribution to labour history and gives a useful overview of his major works including his tetralogy The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and The Age of Extremes. Hobsbawm was a member of the Communist Party until its demise. Although at times he retreated into academic work rather than party activism (partly due to his criticisms of the party leadership), the pamphlet’s authors conclude that his aim as a historian was not merely to indulge in uncovering the minutiae of past events but to understand the past in order to “illuminate the present”. Go to www.socialisthistorysociety.co.uk
Two issues of New Left Review have appeared in the past quarter. The lead article in number II/95 by Wolfgang Streeck offers some commonplaces about the eurozone crisis, though the editors embarrassingly claim that Streeck offers “a landmark critique of Smithian notions of money”—a discussion that relies on Max Weber’s treatment of money as an instrument of social struggle and ignores Marx’s much more profound exploration of the subject. Elsewhere in the same issue, Neil Davidson’s major study of bourgeois revolutions is subjected to nit-picking sectarian criticism. The more recent issue (II/96) opens with an extended editorial by Perry Anderson that surveys the grim plight of the Palestinian people, subjected to a flourishing Fortress Israel that has benefitted from the cowardice and venality of the Fatah leadership. One less palatable consequence—for both the partners Israel and Fatah and their Western backers—is, as Anderson points out, the growing support for a one-state solution.
The issue concludes with a review by John Newsinger, one of International Socialism’s most productive contributors, of Janam Mukherjee’s new study of one of the greatest crimes of British imperialism, the Bengal Famine of 1943-4. His summary is devastating:
“In order to protect the Raj from a Japanese threat that never materialised, the British state sacrificed the lives of some five million people, the War Cabinet maintaining an attitude of callous indifference. In Churchill’s particular case, indifference was strongly tinged with racism. Even [secretary of state for India Leo] Amery, on one occasion, was driven to remark that he couldn’t see “much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s”. As Mukherjee insists, the Bengal Famine was no natural disaster but rather “the direct product of colonial and war-time ideologies and calculations which knowingly exposed the poor of Bengal to annihilation through deprivation”—“a grievous crime was committed in broad daylight”, one that is still unacknowledged. The British were far from alone in perpetrating this crime… Indian elites and political leaders were both accessories and beneficiaries, largely unmoved by the suffering in the countryside. Here, Mukherjee highlights a crucial silence in Indian historiography. These classes still rule India—and Pakistan—today”.
AC & CR