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Rory Scothorne: Class before Nation

14 December 2017
... of 2014’s independence referendum, the message was clear: we want to get off. The referendum’s radical reputation came from its adoption of ‘folk politics’, a term coined by Nick Srnicek and AlexWilliams in their book Inventing the Future. Privileging the ‘small-scale, the authentic, the traditional and the natural’, it is, they write, a ‘political common sense that has become out of ...

One Click at a Time

Owen Hatherley

29 June 2016
PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future 
by Paul Mason.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £8.99, June 2016, 978 0 14 197529 0
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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work 
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams.
Verso, 256 pp., £12.99, October 2015, 978 1 78478 096 8
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... Both​ Paul Mason’s PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future and Nick Srnicek and AlexWilliams’s Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work advocate things that seemed to have disappeared from thinking on the left sometime in the late 1960s: technological optimism ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones

21 November 1985
The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... Security is the problem that exercises both Philip Roth and Raymond Williams. The sort of ‘security’ I mean is the sort that spreads a feeling of insecurity – a fear of surveillance, bugging, secret cameras, interrogation, the false smile of Mr Nice and the sincere ...
10 November 1994
Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex​ Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... Hanson to expand her transport business in 1846 – when she began to haul wool and other goods across the Pennines to Manchester on packhorses – pulsed through the veins of her great-grandsons,’ Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe write without a trace of irony. One of these was Robert Hanson, the great James’s father, through whose veins the entrepreneurial spirit pulsed so fiercely that he stored ...

Lost Boys

Andrew O’Hagan

8 June 1995
... where they wiped it down, and thought to keep it. When they heard of the missing boy, though, they gave the bike to the police, who found that it was Daniel’s. Daniel was the fourth of Maxine Williams’s five boys. In April 1994 Maxine had left the family home she shared with her husband David Handley in Newark Knok, and taken the kids to live at the house of her boyfriend Alex Joseph, at Lobelia ...

Bustin’ up the Chiffarobe

Alex​ Abramovich: Paul Beatty

7 January 2016
The Sellout 
by Paul Beatty.
Farrar, Straus, 288 pp., £17, March 2015, 978 0 374 26050 7
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... The pure products​ of America go crazy, William Carlos Williams wrote, but he was only half right: America’s crazy, and so sometimes its pure products go sane. Consider the eponymous narrator of Paul Beatty’s novel The Sellout. When we first meet him, in the ...

Post-Humanism

Alex​ Zwerdling

15 October 1987
The Failure of Theory: Essays on Criticism and Contemporary Theory 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Harvester, 225 pp., £28.50, April 1987, 0 7108 1129 2
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... the impact of whose work ‘has been due to the adventurism of a critic swiftly assimilating, and memorably responding to, wave after wave of neo-Marxist theory. As major influences, Sartre, Williams, Lukacs, Goldmann, Anderson, Althusser, Macherey, Benjamin, Derrida and the feminist movement have followed one another in quick succession.’ Literary theory, in this view, has become a self ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite

22 October 2014
The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... below-me rhetoric that comes with it, owes much to the old differentiation within the working class between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’. Jones misses the power of what the blogger AlexWilliams has defined as ‘negative solidarity’ inside a demoralised, struggling and stratified proletariat. A blunt example: in the 1990s, when my father was working shifts as a sheet-metal worker, he ...

Good New Idea

John Lanchester: Universal Basic Income

18 July 2019
... in a welfare state, from the need to take demeaning or exhausting or damagingly precarious work. This idea has been the focus of attention for a great range of thinkers, including Nick Srnicek and AlexWilliams in Inventing the Future, David Graeber in Bullshit Jobs, Paul Mason in Post-Capitalism, Rutger Breman in Utopia for Realists, and Peter Barnes in With Liberty and Dividends for All. UBI is ...
23 July 1992
Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson.
Cape, 307 pp., £15.99, June 1992, 0 224 02730 1
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... determined to follow her. The swallow dive was perfected by the diminutive American Desjardins, and immortalised in the Olympic film sequence of Leni Riefenstahl. I am delighted to find that Esther Williams, the swimming star of Forties and Fifties films, always scornfully refused to wear a bikini: those huge elaborate film displays with grottos, waterfalls and diving platforms featured costumes far ...

Do It and Die

Richard Horton

20 April 1995
Soundings 
by Abraham Verghese.
Phoenix, 347 pp., £18.99, May 1994, 1 897580 26 6
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... percentage of the population who are non-white is listed to reassure prospective visitors (7.2 per cent, for the record). Tourism trades happily on this humiliating past. Henning, the birthplace of Alex Haley; the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, where Martin Luther King was assassinated on 3 April 1968; Dayton, where John Scopes was convicted in 1925 for teaching evolution to his biology class. Tennessee ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis

1 July 1999
The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... play with him and not totally disgrace yourself. Now try to imagine yourself today as you were in your twenties, facing Sampras or Philippoussis or Ivanisevic, or even Navratilova, Hingis or Venus Williams: can’t be done, no way at all even of being on the same court, much less hitting their balls back. Two decades ago, wooden rackets were replaced by high-tech instruments engineered to the utmost in ...

War within wars

Paul Addison

5 November 1992
War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard 
edited by Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill.
Oxford, 322 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 822292 0
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... of a disaster so close to home would have been shattering.’ It is good to know that military historians still pursue their traditional goal of seeking out the skeletons in the cupboard. Rhodri Williams shows how British prejudice against their French allies led to the folly of the Battle of Loos in September 1915. David French, on the other hand, explains how the responsibility for another great ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum

25 October 2018
Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... through the looking-glass. Most of the surviving protagonists of the 1975 referendum – such as the former Europhiles David Owen and Nigel Lawson; Neil Kinnock, a prominent Labour anti in 1975; or Alex Salmond, then a youthful SNP anti-Marketeer – found themselves on the other side of the debate from their former selves. The exception was Jim Sillars. The outspoken Labour anti of 1975 re-emerged ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson

3 November 2011
Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... south to read modern languages at Cambridge, where F.R. Leavis encouraged him to ‘add modernist rigour to his Celtic romanticism’. He was part of a left-wing circle that included Raymond Williams, D.J. Enright and Maurice Craig, a Northern Irishman who remembered Henderson as ‘very loud-voiced, very insistently Scottish, and constantly singing’. During the two years he spent in Cambridge ...

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