Charlie Harvey

October 2011 Reading

  • Britain's Empire: Resistence, repression and revolt, by Richard Gott

    This is a difficult read at times, putting the lie to the myth of the British Empire being a benign, democratic or civilising project. Rebellion was never far from the surface and was put down by genocide, torture, extermination and crimes against humanity. The subject people's who Britain systematically oppressed fought back as best they could. The breadth and scope of the book are stunning, and Gott doesn't flinch from drawing the parallels between the Empire's appalling behaviour and that of 20th century dictators. It should be read by every smug apologist for the brutal, exploitative, murderous institution that the Empire was.

    2011-10-02 by Charlie Harvey
  • Seize The Time, the story of the Black Panther Party, By Bobby Seale

    I first read this back in the early nineties and remember being bowled over by the bravery and militancy and strategic insight that the panthers bought to bear on the systematically racist state. And this is still a book that packs a punch. There's some anachronisms in there, particularly when talking about gender I guess its of its time in that way, which is a shame because the way that the Panthers linked class and race as major axes of oppression anticipates to a great extent the kinds of social analysis that the anarchist and anticapitalist activists of today talk about.

    2011-10-23 by Charlie Harvey
  • Hobsbawm has a particular genius of being able to compress a tonne of analysis into a tiny and relatively readable phrase. In this tome he looks at the decades following the French Revolution. He argues that Industrial Revolution in Britain and the French Revolution and subsequent Jacobin and Bonapartist regimes in France cleared the decks for the development and articulation of capitalism as we understand it today both as an industrial process and as a driver of innovations in the sciences and arts and expecially in the political landscape. His language is perhaps a bit dated by the standards of today's pop-historians, but he is always coherent and never jargonny. You can of course critiscize his Eurocentrism and his concentration on the politico-economic aspects of history, which would be fair comment. But if you want a great economic and political narrative that clearly documents how the world of capitalism came to be then this is a very good place to start.

    2011-10-23 by Charlie Harvey


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