Susan Watkins

Susan Watkins is the editor of New Left Review.

Vanity and Venality: The European Impasse

Susan Watkins, 29 August 2013

All quiet on the euro front? Seen from Berlin, it looks as though the continent is now under control at last, after the macro-financial warfare of the last three years. A new authority, the Troika, is policing the countries that got themselves into trouble; governments are constitutionally bound to the principles of good housekeeping. Further measures will be needed for the banks – but all in good time. The euro has survived; order has been restored. The new status quo is already a significant achievement. Seen from the besieged parliaments of Athens and Madrid, the single currency has turned into a monetary choke-lead.

Love Story: Rosa Luxemburg

Susan Watkins, 21 February 2002

In the feverish atmosphere that gripped Europe after the Russian Revolution, there were many who saw insurrection as a gateway to the future: 1919 brought revolutionary uprisings in Budapest, Munich and Berlin. In Germany, the newly installed Social Democratic Government bloodied its hands suppressing the revolts. Since the regular troops could not be relied on, the SPD Defence Minister...

Determined to Spin

Susan Watkins, 22 June 2000

‘How I envied Winifred Holtby,’ wrote the novelist Phyllis Bentley. ‘Tall and fair and handsome … that lovely speaking voice, that precision of English, that flat in London, that post on Time and Tide, those interesting wellcut clothes, that Oxford degree.’ And, she might have added, those six vivid, heartfelt novels, the last, South Riding (1936), achieving the status of a minor classic of the critical portrait-of-England genre. And that flatmate, pretty, political Vera Brittain. And that busy, unconventional household: the two women – radical liberals, feminists – writing, talking and organising as they brought up Vera’s two children; the sensitive American academic (the children’s father) arriving to stay for half the year, bringing news of political science circles in the USA.’‘

Paul Lafargue drove Engels to despair. Negotiating with other French socialists over the founding of the Parti Ouvrier Français in 1881, he committed ‘blunder after blunder’ and nearly wrecked the whole thing. In 1889, charged with organising the founding conference of the Second International in Paris, he was making ‘a terrible hash of things’. Wilhelm Liebknecht, the ageing leader of the SPD, had to chase all over Paris finding lodgings for the German delegation. The hall that had been booked was far too small (four hundred delegates nevertheless squeezed in, Keir Hardie, Eleanor Marx and William Morris among them). The translating was shambolic, the resolutions so badly drafted that there was a tremendous row when it came to settling on 1 May as International Workers’ Day. Yet at the end there was a tremendous cheer for the symbolic handshake between Liebknecht and Edouard Vaillant, representing the unity of the French and German proletariats against militarism and war.

I was just beginning to write about 1968 when I learned of the death in New Orleans of Ron Ridenhour, the GI who exposed the massacre at My Lai. He was only 52, which means that he was in his...

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