RECENT REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    An antidote to the neoliberal fixation of British mainstream discourse. A must read for the informed citizen. ~ Francesca Martinez

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    A provocative intervention into contemporary politics. Chris Nineham shows how 40 years of neoliberal capitalism resulted in accumulation by dispossession and the accumulation of discontent. The book makes an argument for socialism as the only adequate political response to the ongoing crises. ~ Christian Fuchs, author of Critical Theory of Communication and Reading Marx in the Information Age

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    A clear guide as to how the elite got us into this mess and why it can’t get us out of it again, it will stimulate debate as to how the left should respond.
    ~ Andrew Murray, author of The Imperial Controversy and Off the Rails

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    A must read for anyone concerned with the state of our times, its historical antecedents and the possibilities of a different world.
    ~ Alpa Shah, author of In the Shadows of the State

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    This is a book to cheer you up.  The game’s afoot. The old certainties are fading.  The market doesn’t work.  People’s lives are dominated by insecurity and pressures of all kinds.  Can we bring together all who resist to make a real change? Chris Nineham argues for that possibility.  It is a test not only of our determination, but also of our understanding.


    ~ Ken Loach

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    A highly readable, fast moving account of how the British establishment have lost the plot. Chris Nineham reveals, often using their own words, that they know they have, but they would rather you didn’t read it here... ~ Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%

  • How the Establishment Lost Control
    Chris Nineham
    An important and perceptive history of post-war Britain and the effects of neoliberalism. A critique with a robust philosophical basis, it explains where the inequalities that led us to this point originated, how they are being perpetuated, and how they can be deconstructed. Essential reading for anybody wishing to understand the state we’re in. ~ Brian Eno

  • Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left
    Ian Parker
    http://www.criticalinstitute.org/revolutionary-keywords-new-left-ian-parker-book-review/
    Review: Revolutionary Keywords For A New Left . Authored book: Ian Parker. Publisher: Zero Books. Publishing Date: December 8, 2017. Review by: Neil Cocks (University of Reading)
    One can make a few predictions about any new book by Prof. Ian Parker. It will be intellectually daring, international in its understandings, and will draw together discourses and events often kept apart within established writing. Above all, it will not be easy to predict. Revolutionary Keywords For A New Left is no exception.
    In the book, Parker acknowledges that the text is in some ways an updating of Raymond William’s classic Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. When Williams went about charting the history of certain definitive terms within radical discourse, however, his focus was very much the white, straight, European and male. In one respect, then, the updating is necessary to introduce to such a progressive project the feminist, queer and postcolonial, yet Revolutionary Keywords is not simply tasked with returning neglected subjects to the discourse of the left, as through such an operation it also questions the nature of such discourse. In other words, the difficulty for Parker is not only that Williams focuses on the wrong thing, or even that his focus is not sufficiently broad, but rather that the discourse of ‘focus’ itself is at issue. Parker has written a text that, in its every aspect, problematizes a centrism that, left unchecked, can limit revolutionary possibility.
    The reasons for writing the book are set out in the following terms:
    ‘In the past fifty years the ‘left’ has had to learn about new ways of organising itself to take on board the politics of different social movements, and that has also meant changing the way we describe what we are up against and where we are going’. (6)
    The task of Revolutionary Keywords is to open up an understanding and discussion of these transformations. To achieve this end, the text rejects a conventional linear structure. Instead, fifty chapters engage with fifty keywords, some long established (‘Empire’, ‘Fascism’, ‘Discourse’), some more recent (‘Young Girl’, ‘Brexit’, ‘Cis’). The result is a text that can offer up unexpected connections. I can, for example, very much recommend reading ‘Structurelessness’, followed by ‘Identity’ and by ‘Pabloism’: the impossibility and necessity of structure; its disavowal within Capitalism; its uncanny, disruptive effects within revolutionary thinking and practice. The text is about the meeting of ‘keywords’ in a way that results in tensions between discrete terms whilst also problematising the notion of such hard-impacted distinctions. Revolutionary Keywords is, in these terms, an example of what one chapter names the ‘Prefigurative’, producing a reading that ‘anticpate[s] the world of tomorrow’.
    There is another sense in which the text works to create unexpected spaces and possibilities for thinking, with Parker, in his account of the book’s formation, writing that:
    ‘I noticed when an unfamiliar word appeared from the Black feminist movement, for example, and how my comrades struggled to make sense of it, and how they reframed it in their old political language. Then I would use that word in a way closer to how it was meant to operate, but instead of simply explaining it I would put it to work on a different topic. Then we could see better what uses it has, how it takes us forward in understanding what is going on, and creates alliances’ (7 – 8)
    In practice, this means for example, that the chapter on ‘Discourse’ reads Foucault through the neo-liberal project of the ANC, whilst that on ‘Cis’ discusses sexuality and Ukranian identity. This is a text that does not dismiss the force of boundaries, nor the necessity of structures, but is consistently challenging and transforming what these might be, and the nature and direction of the forces upon which they call.
    It is an approach exemplified in a chapter entitled ‘Postcolonial’, in which Parker skilfully brings together psychoanalysis, deconstruction, national communist party history, and neo-liberal educational projects. This chapter will be of particular interest to those familiar with The Critical Institute, as it looks to Malta as an example of how an examination of the ways in which ‘economic and cultural entit[ies are] located in relation to the history of colonialism’ can ‘enable critical reflection and resistance to local and imperial state attempts to subjugate populations and destroy the land’ (148). After contrasting various and contradictory critical moves that in some way ‘provincialise Europe’ with those that resist such a reconfiguring and difference, Parker turns to the question of Maltese education. Specifically, he discusses the all too familiar events that saw the government backing a proposal for a Jordanian non-University named the ‘American University of Malta’, one that would require the destruction of both public HE and the natural environment. Parker reads how the resistance to this monocultural, violent enterprise mobilises diversity, further suggesting that:
    One aspect of postcolonial critique that is borne out by these recent attempts to recolonise Malta and by the resistance to that neoliberal exercise in cultural imperialism in the context of the global knowledge economy is that ‘postcolonial subjects’ are not only those who live inside the old colonies. Postcolonial studies describes, among other things, the way in which those at the margins often, in a way that is uncanny for those in the ‘centre’, know more about the colonisers than the colonisers themselves know. And the flip side of this is that those who refuse to be of the ‘centre’ and who make political alliances with ‘outsiders’ can all the more effectively dismantle the legacy of colonialism, anticipating the day when it really will be accurate to refer to it as something that really is ‘post’ (151-2)
    Within Parker’s exacting critique, the tensions between the various discourses he introduces do not simply result in an appeal to comforting, liberal tolerance-inclusiveness. Rather, cultural and geographic ‘contradictions’ both enable Maltese resistance to certain monotheistic structures, and are also the marks of a colonial history now ‘intensified in the pursuit of profit’. Such reversals are consistently read in Revolutionary Keywords not in terms of pessimistic dead-ends, but rather the very stuff of critical and political movements. In this text, Parker proves himself once again a truly great reader of the dialectic. There is a reflexivity that actualises, rather than dilutes, the revolutionary politics. Indeed, this is a text that makes real political movement. It is a text that makes the call and opens up the possibility of going ‘forward’. Or, as Parker has it in his address to his audience: ‘I hope you like the book and argue with it’.
    Reviewed by Neil Cocks (University of Reading) E-mail: n.h.cocks[at]reading.ac.uk

    ~ Neil Cocks, Critical Institute

  • Kill All Normies
    Angela Nagle
    Excellent study of the alarming rise of the 'alt-right' movement treating the subject with the scholarly care and attention that it (unfortunately) deserves in respect to its influence on the current political climate. Very readable and sobering, especially in respect to the complete failure of the left to respond to the challenges raised in any meaningful way. ~ Ben Hart, NetGalley

  • Kill All Normies
    Angela Nagle
    Excellent study of the alarming rise of the 'alt-right' movement treating the subject with the scholarly care and attention that it (unfortunately) deserves in respect to its influence on the current political climate. Very readable and sobering, especially in respect to the complete failure of the left to respond to the challenges raised in any meaningful way. ~ Ben Hart, NetGalley

  • Romeo and Juliet in Palestine
    Tom Sperlinger
    An honest, thoughtful and modest account of working with students in Palestine. It's a great book and the closest I've read to the Palestine I know. ~ Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham

  • Kill All Normies
    Angela Nagle
    First of all: Holy s""t. This is a book that I have been waiting to read for quiet some time now, but the level of insight and highly comprehensive discussion of what is going on in the cultural wars on the Web by Nagle exceeded my expectations. It reminded me of early works by Naomi Klein which combined the journalistic approach to the material at hand with detailed, but still accessible discussion of the theoretical aspect of the subject.

    Nagle discusses the ongoing (or lost?) cultural war between Tumblr liberalism vs. 4-chan inspired alt-right while both of the terms comprises of highly heterogenous elements. Internet, once lauded as the free, “horizontal” space of a new kind of anarchical democracy (not long ago but around 2013 many of the liberal left still saw and hailed the new “democratic” terrain of the Internet) today has been dominated by the misogynistic, Nazi-sympathizing Man’s Rights activists.

    Her historical account of what happened over the last 10 years is remarkable. Once a place of “progressive boosters” of the first-generation users of 4-chan, the transgressive and cynical culture of the website becomes a fecund terrain for rape and death threats, organized bullying that leads to suicides and depressions, complete annihilation of lives of regular teenagers and famous scientists alike.

    The discussion of transgression for transgression’s sake is great. When one considers the inter-war and post-WWII origins of the proliferation of “transgressive” politics or what I call “Nietzschean left”, the turn of events become even more remarkable. A remnant of the transgressive left politics of 1960s, actually 1968, how transgression and cynicism is weaponized by the extreme-right vanguard (in the base, only a fierce anti-PC sentiment is prevalent) seems more contingent than it is a necessary trait of this line of thought. The turn of events looks like it resulted because of numerous failures of the Left.

    Nagle argues that the pain, suffering and victimhood-affirming culture of Tumblr-liberalism is one of these reasons for the failure and I think she is right. “Kony 2012” videos among others comes to mind in this rush to collect “virtue points” in this scarcity of virtue market on the Web. Also, the intra-left purge and exclusion of the critics of this self-pleasing activities is another example (Nagle gives the example of Mark Fisher who sadly committed suicide this year).

    One other aspect of the failures of the left in my opinion is how the Left overlooked the realm of Desire that is almost necessarily not satisfied in our contemporary societies. Nagle discusses the frustrated sexuality of the regular young male today and it is a legitimate discussion insofar that it makes up a portion of the frustrated young male who is not politicized until he is pushed towards the misogynistic underbelly of the Web which is again, not necessarily Nazi, but a couple of steps away from it at best. Desire, in this case, is also a desire for the commodity, of course, which also necessarily dissatisfies. When you have the means to buy a given commodity, it fails to restore a sense of satisfaction but rather perpetuates it even further. When you are not able to buy it, well, in an intuitive fashion, you are dissatisfied in a world of instant satisfaction, pornographic images and incessant advertisements. The left’s complete immersion and self-satisfaction with identity politics (LGBT and the alphabet goes on as Zizek was lambasted by critics from the Left when he criticized some of the aspects of the politics of gender in a recent article debate, you can Google it) leaves the room for this new brand of extreme right to tap into the frustration and insecurities of the young male.

    The weird question to be asked is then how to answer such an effective version of “Gramscian” right who successfully waged a cultural war against the cultural Marxism? (this is an incredibly effectively misnomer as the war is waged on politically correct liberalism) Nagle doesn’t shy way from the question in an equally strong conclusion chapter. She claims that “trolling the troll” is not effective. One should definitively leave the trenches of privilege-checking, victimhood-loving trenches of identitarian politics for a start. Staunchly anti-xenophobic and also positively built left populism might be one of the answers. “Chocolate eating-vibrator waving” (in Nina Power’s immortal words), consumer-friendly feminism of Lena Dunham did not help Hillary much as one can see. Another question to be asked could be if a newly reinvigorated left aesthetics is possible along the lines of Guy Debord, Beatniks and others or the 1960s wave of transgressive left-wing aesthetics is completely compromised by the alt-Right. While the economic (what Nagle calls “materialist”) left has never been in a complete alliance with the anti-authoritarian aesthetics of the 1960s, it is a question that should be re-asked again. ~ Baglan Deniz, Reviewer at Koç University, Istanbul (NetGalley)

  • Henry, Henry
    Brian Willems
    Inventive. I love anything that manages to be experimental without being pretentious. This book pulls it off. ~ Jennifer Williams (librarian), GoodReads

  • Kill All Normies
    Angela Nagle
    I was expecting to be interested in this, but I didn't expect to be so impressed by it. Angela Nagle writes so even-handedly and with such a fair critical eye about recent iterations of disruptive political groupings on both the right and left. On the right is the now-notorious alt-right, divided between the 'alt-light', typified by meme-making/gleefully antagonistic trolling/use of 4chan-derived argot, and the more genuinely fascistic tendencies often masked by the headline-grabbing behaviour of alt-light figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos. On the left is what Nagle sometimes refers to as 'Tumblr-liberalism', the extremely performative culture of calling-out, victimhood and competitive identity politics that seems driven by (and here I will quote Nagle quoting the late Mark Fisher, as it couldn't be paraphrased any more perfectly) 'a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd'.

    Nagle draws a line through history from the 'culture wars' of the 1960s to those of today, arguing that the transgressive, countercultural spirit historically embodied by the anti-establishment left has been sublimated much more effectively by the modern right. She also undertakes an in-depth (though concise) review of the many, many factions of what is often sweepingly referred to as the alt-right, from 'chan culture' to the alternately pathetic and terrifying 'manosphere'. Not only is this pretty fascinating in itself, it also brings to light the serious theoretical and academic roots of certain strands of this movement – something often ignored by liberal pundits who concentrate instead on clutching their pearls at the outrageous antics of high-profile figures like Milo and Alex Jones. The idea of a handful of demagogues and professional trolls riling up people who essentially don't understand politics has been a common theme (deployed with varying levels of sensitivity) in analysis of the Trump and Brexit victories; Nagle's study shows this to be dangerously reductive.

    Kill All Normies is an accessible but unpatronising study, perfectly balancing academic critique, political commentary and assured, intelligent, non-embarrassing writing about the internet and its unique subcultures. It is so refreshing to read something like this, that comes at the topic from a left-leaning perspective but refuses to toe the line with regards to the frustrating, ever-shifting rules of engagement that now seem to define online discourse. The version I read had some typos and needed a bit of tightening up from an editorial perspective, but it was a review copy. And that is genuinely my only criticism. Somehow Nagle also manages to write a conclusion that tears everyone a new arsehole AND ends on a contemplative note.

    I thought I knew quite a bit about this topic already, but I learned so much from this book, particularly about the historical context of these movements. Thoroughly and enthusiastically recommended to anyone with an interest in the current political climate as it manifests in online culture. ~ Blair Rose Hartley, GoodReads

  • Kill All Normies
    Angela Nagle
    Just so there’s no mucking about, let me say up front that it is a rare and fleeting pleasure to read Angela Nagle. She is delightfully well read, distills the nonsense of the world calmly and directly, never loses her dispassionate center, and doesn’t descend into pop culture citations. She is effortlessly authoritative. Would there were more like her.

    In Kill All Normies, things online have gone unaccountably negative. The internet was supposed to be a giant uplifting community party. Instead, it is a morass of trolls, alt-right, and out and out hatred, from racists to neonazis to feminazis. Even the arts have turned negative, and to criticize them as such just makes you outmoded – and subject to vicious threats. “The whole online sensibility is more in the spirit of foul-mouthed comment-thread trolls than it is of bible study, more Fight Club than family values, more in line with the Marquis de Sade than Edmund Burke. “

    Her criticism of her own generation stings. They “come from an utterly intellectual shut-down world of Tumblr and trigger warnings, and the purging of dissent in which they have only learned to recite jargon.” They couldn’t even debate the hollow showman Milo Yiannopoulos; they could only prevent him speaking.

    We are approaching anarchy. The right is at least as fractured and disorganized as the left. There is no longer any typical or classical right; every individual colors it their own way. So despite Republicans’ control of all the levels of government, they continue to fight amongst themselves and make no headway in their agenda. Because they can’t even agree on the agenda. Nagle takes an entire chapter to deconstruct the character Milo Yiannopoulos, who embodies all the contradictions in one neat package. The feeling you’re left with is that barriers to entry need to at least exist. Today, the internet offers equal time and space to every flavor of hate and ignorance going.

    Nagle doesn’t go far enough. Unsaid is that all of her characters have one thing in common: a tiny bit of power. It is easier to wield negative power than positive power, so they armchair jockey hatred, and laugh at their own cruelty. It is ignorant and outrageous, and that is the whole point. It is a deadly combination of too much time and too little future. The other thing unsaid is that it is infinitesimal. Almost none of the characters has real fame, much less popularity or value. They are their own audience, insignificant in the scheme of things. The occasional Milo is a shooting star than soon fades to black.

    I look forward to Nagle leveraging her talents into a deeper examination of a heavier issue. This is a terrific intro. ~ David Wineberg, NetGalley

  • Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left
    Ian Parker
    Wow! What an epic! Not only is your book 'a pioneering convergence of activist writings and philosophical enquiry', it is also a mind-blowing analysis of the 57 varieties of Trotskyist politics. (Would readers under 60 understand that reference, I wonder?). As I have so little knowledge of international politics, (eg 2nd, 3rd or 4th Internationals, troika, entrism etc.) much of it left me puzzled but that is my inadequacy. It's also too late to complain about your tangled, Dickensian sentences - so I shan't. How interesting to discover that my son is still quoting the cultural Marxist Raymond Williams 50 years after I studied and admired him at college. I wrote, for my own edification, a 4-point summary of aspects of the changing contexts for resisting capitalism, only to find that, in your excellent concluding essay, you had written a much better one. Things That Worried Me: The section on Zionism; I found it totally confusing. The admission that there could be radically different interpretations of Marx; it reminded me too much of the Bible. You abhor demonising, but you yourself demonise many groups (in the case of ROOSH V, perfectly understandably). Do 'relationships' actually un-nerve traditional left organisations? Some of your 'new' words are not new at all nor - as far as I can see - have they changed at all. (How about: other, post-modern, post-colonial etc? There are too many traps threatening you in almost every chapter! Do you have to say 'for sure'? You Yankee. Things I particularly liked: Your useful division of the subject matter into the periods 1917-1967 and 1967-2017. Your description of Stalinism as 'a false alternative... simply state capitalism' (see also Putinism). Your contrasting of traditional intellectuals who describe the world but don't take a stand, with organic intellectuals who develop theory in alliance with the exploited and oppressed to end capitalism itself. Your uplifting description of not only small-scale agricultural initiatives but also transition towns. Left Unity - which sounds hopeful. I like your use of the appellation LGBTQ+ which I learned only recently. Thank you for sharing your splendid book with me.
    Jean Angus Ledigo ~ Jean Angus Ledigo, Email

  • Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left
    Ian Parker
    https://www.mixcloud.com/quanticaonline/let-the-dogz-out-73-by-jo%C3%A3o-manuel-de-oliveira-2352017/ ~ João Manuel de Oliveira, Radio Quantica

  • Romeo and Juliet in Palestine
    Tom Sperlinger
    Trust the Brits to find the humor in anything. Sperlinger deploys wry wit [and his] keen feel for the absurd provides much-needed relief in an often grim story. If, like me, you don’t know much about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, this memoir will open your eyes to Palestinians’ perspectives on the conflict. Sperlinger, whose grandparents fled Vienna in 1938 to escape the Holocaust, is quietly appalled by what people [in] the West Bank endure... At 144 pages, this novella-length memoir flies by. And just as Sperlinger arouses his students’ curiosity about literature, he whets ours for a greater understanding of a people whose oppression is too often overlooked or misunderstood. More, Sperlinger made me want to read or reread not just Shakespeare but Edward Said, Malcolm X, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper¸” Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist,” Irish and Palestinian poets, Israeli playwrights—and, indeed, whatever Sperlinger writes next. ~ Beth Johnston, Cleaver Magazine

  • Babbling Corpse
    Grafton Tanner
    "[Babbling Corpse] stands sturdy as a deconstruction of an enigmatic and confounding artistic movement." ~ Under the Radar, http://www.undertheradarmag.com/reviews/babbling_corpse/

  • Deconstructing Dirty Dancing
    Stephen Lee Naish
    Released in 1987, Dirty Dancing is one of those films that is almost impossible to not know about, but it’s also one that’s probably not taken very seriously. The story of privileged Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and hunky heartthrob Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) has been watched over and over again, gaining a larger audience as the years have passed by. Certain songs have become synonymous with the film, dialogue will be quoted, and how could any of us ever forget some of the most iconic scenes of the film. It’s a fantastic film, but one that most people will dismiss as a “chick flick”. At least you will until diving into author Stephen Lee Naish’s book, “Deconstructing Dirty Dancing“, available from Zero Books.
    Naish looks at the film through a new lens. By exploring the political subtext, the way the film celebrated women at a time where this was a rarity in Hollywood, gender, class, race, and how Dirty Dancing was a perfect blend of the ’60s and the ’80s, Naish will make you think a lot more deeply about the movie. He breaks the film down scene by scene, picking some of the larger moments as well as the tiniest bit of dialogue to make his points. It’s not only a wonderful look back on the movie, but a fantastic way to see the themes many of us have probably missed.
    Coming in at under 100 pages, “Deconstructing Dirty Dancing” is also a very brisk read. Naish doesn’t slow things down with overly intellectual text. There’s no need to have completed your thesis to enjoy the book. However, Naish doesn’t just offer a surface level reading of the film either. He’s even bold enough to compare the film to David Lynch’s Blue Velvet in a mostly convincing way. While I’m still not completely on board with that comparison, Naish does manage to point out the similarities with certain characters effectively.
    In a year dominated by aggressively macho films like Predator, Running Man, RoboCop, and Lethal Weapon, Dirty Dancing seemed to come out of nowhere. At the time, few people probably even bothered to wonder why. That’s what makes Naish’s book so interesting. He looks at how the film was able to capture the hearts and minds of people by exploring the way it fit so perfectly into the culture of the ’80s, even though the film is set in the ’60s. The problems presented in the film were things that may not have been as large in the ’80s, but they were still problems we continued to face. Class, gender, and race are still incredibly relevant social problems, so Dirty Dancing continues to be a film we can look at now, 30 years later. Thanks to Naish, it’s even easier to see how those themes are explored in the film.
    Since “Deconstructing Dirty Dancing” is a rather short book, it’s quite easy to get swept up in reliving the film and read from beginning to end. In the same amount of time you would spend watching the movie, you are able to relive every important moment while also gaining a better understanding of the film. Naish’s words bring the film to life, and although I haven’t watched this movie in years, I felt as if I had just watched it yesterday. That speaks not only to Naish’s talent, but also the power of the film. I can remember all the little moments of the movie, despite having only watched it a handful of times. For diehard fans of Dirty Dancing, this book will certainly be appreciated even more.
    Naish finally makes Dirty Dancing more than just a “chick flick” that is overlooked. Whether you’re a huge fan of the film or not, I can’t recommend “Deconstructing Dirty Dancing” more highly. ~ Will Brownridge, Toronto Film Scene

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