Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2008

Slump and War

Slump and War
The Spokesman 102
Edited by Ken Coates

The election of Barack Obama came as the culmination of a profound surge of optimism in the United States, and of hope against hope in large parts of the rest of the world. Widely detested, the Bush administration was the most unpopular in living memory.

Obama had fought an audacious campaign, calling in question not only the war in Iraq, but the train of events which had brought the United States into contempt all around the world. The American military, far from exercising full spectrum dominance, was arousing full spectrum detestation. Its symbols were Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, water boarding and extraordinary rendition.

As the American economy raced from recession to slump, Obama’s campaign seemed to gather momentum. Earnest crowds of young people were seen on television singing the anthem of Woody Guthrie:
‘This land is your land, this land is my land,
from California to New York Island.’
Would that it were so.

This land creaks with e…

The Levellers and The Devil's Whore

The Levellers and the English Revolution
H.N. Brailsford
Edited by Christopher Hill

'To our generation fell the good fortune of re-discovering the Levellers. To the classical liberal historians they meant rather less than nothing. This neglect is puzzling. At the crisis of the English Revolution it was the Levellers and not from its commanders that the victorious New Model army derived its political ideas and its democratic drive.' H.N. Brailsford.

The Levellers continue to inspire public interest. John Lilburne and Thomas Rainsborough are central to Channel 4's current production, The Devil's Whore. The four part series about the English Civil War continues tonight at 9pm, repeated Saturday.

For more information about Brailsford's seminal work and other relevant titles, please visit:

Price: £18.00 816 pages Indexed

Ending War: A Recipe

Ending War: A Recipe
By Robert Hinde

'Not this year, not in my lifetime, perhaps in yours, and with a strong probability in my grandchildren's lifetimes, war will be seen as an unacceptable way of settling disputes between states. The aim of this book is to hasten the day.' Robert Hinde, British Pugwash Group

The author was a Coastal Command Pilot, flying Catalinas and Sunderlands, in World War Two. After the war he worked as a biologist/psychologist at Cambridge University. He was appointed a Royal Society Research Professor in 1963, and was Master of St. John's College, Cambridge from 1989 to 1994. He is Deputy Chair (recently Chair) of the British Pugwash Group, Patron of the Movement for the Abolition of War, and Patron of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness Programme. The British Pugwash Group is an affiliate of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.

Available from Spokesman Books
Price £4.00 - 48pp - ISBN 97…

Tom Paine's Bi-centenary Celebrations

An early start to celebrations to mark Thomas Paine's bi-centenary (he died in 1809) begin in November at Diss Corn Hall.

At 8pm on Friday 7th November Mark Steel kick starts the festivities, which continue through to June 2009, when Trevor Griffiths will read from his screenplayThese Are The Times: A Life of Thomas Paine. Further details of this nearer the time.

For tickets to see Mark Steel contactDiss LibraryorTourist Information Centre.

Community Development Journal Seminar

The Politics of Community 40 Years on

To celebrate the Community Development Journal's 40th Year Anniversary, we have commissioned anInternational Readerof articles featured in the Journal during this period, which represent the richness and diversity in community development theory and practice, and its changing focus.
We are celebrating the Reader's launch with a free seminar, to be followed by refreshments. All are welcome, including students, practitioners, academics, policy-makers and anybody interested in the politics of community.

Friday 10 October 2008 2 - 4 pmLondon South Bank University, Manor Lecture Theatre, London Road Building, 110 London Road, SE1 6LN

Panel: Tony Benn
Amanda Greenwood, Community Development Xchange
Akwugo Emejulu, University of Strathclyde
Gary Craig, Co-Editor Community Development in Theory and Practice: An International Reader
Chair: Mandy Wilson, Community Development JournalTo book a place, please send your completed booking form to Sally Eserin a…

Truth and War - John Pilger

New Statesman - 29 September 2008
John Pilger writes:

… Two years ago, Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian Studies at New York University, wrote a landmark essay in the Nation which has now been reprinted in Britain.* He warns of “the gravest threats [posed] by the undeclared Cold War Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-communist Russia during the past 15 years”. He describes a catastrophic “relentless winner-take-all of Russia's post-1991 weakness”, with two-thirds of the population forced into poverty and life expectancy barely at 59. With most of us in the West unaware, Russia is being encircled by US and Nato bases and missiles in violation of a pledge by the United States not to expand Nato “one inch to the east”. The result, writes Cohen, “is a US -built reverse iron curtain [and] a US denial that Russia has any legit­imate national interests outside its own territory, even in eth­nically akin former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. [There is …

Covention of the Left

From Saturday 20th to Wednesday 24th September 2008 the Convention of the Left gathers together in Manchester under the banner 'Another World is Possible', at the same time as the Labour Party comes to town.

"This bold venture comes as a result of people from different left and radical traditions – or none – getting together in Greater Manchester to say that there IS an alternative ... "

Commencing at 12.30pm on Saturday with the Stop the War/CND demonstration, which assembles at All Saints, Cavendish Street, Manchester, the first session of the Convention follows at 3.00pm in the Friends Meeting House in Mount Street.

TheFinal Programmefor the many events, meetings and discussions which are taking place over the five day Convention is available from Wednesday is 'Peace' day and is a must for those who want to give Peace a chance.

Spokesman Books will attend the Covention. Copies of the new issue of The Spokesman - Tskhinvali: Shock a…

The Spokesman 101 - Tskhinvali: Shock and Awe

The latest issue of our journalThe Spokesmanis now available and below is the accompanying editorial written by Ken Coates.

Tskhinvali: Shock and Awe

Georgia’s war

On 7th August 2008, President Saakashvili of Georgia launched an all-out military assault on the capital town of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali. The town was partly destroyed. Estimates of civilian deaths vary, between fifteen hundred and two thousand. Precise figures may become available quite soon, now that it is possible to recover and bury the dead. Thirty-four thousand South Ossetians fled to the neighbouring territory of North Ossetia, which is part of the Federal Russian State, and they can all talk. They have been doing so incessantly, telling stories of untrammelled brutality.

Tskhinvali was left without water, electricity or gas. The bombardment was continuous, not only from the air, but also by salvoes of Katyusha type rockets based in lethal batteries close to the Georgian town of Gori. When the children of Tskhinvali th…

Revolutionising Tom Paine

RecentlyThese Are The Times: A Life of Thomas Paine, a screenplay by Trevor Griffiths, was broadcast in two parts as Radio 4's Saturday Play. The production has stirred up some disussion onRadio 4's Message Board. In an article for New Humanist, Trevor Griffiths describes its making and what the process revealed about Paine and revolution: "I’m in the gallery of a sound studio on a West London industrial estate, watching the recording of a play I began writing 20 years back and finished, in a form I was happy enough to see published, in 2005. Watching with me are producer, director, sound engineer and production coordinator. It’s our fifth day in. Time is tight. Today we’re trying a king ..."

Read the full article,Revolutionising Tom Paine.

No More Hiroshimas

It is 63 years since the first atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; on the 6th and 9th of August respectively. Around the world this week many commemorative events are taking place. They include events in Leeds, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Germany, Austria, the USA and Canada. For details of what is happening in your area please go to the ICANwebsite.

Spokesman Books commemorates these events with a collection of poems by James Kirkup entitled No More Hiroshimas. In the preface the author explains the genesis of this little collection: 'These poems all have their roots in one late afternoon at the land workers’ hostel outside Ponteland, Northumberland. As we entered the hostel we got the news that the first American Atom Bomb had been dropped on Japan, on the city of Hiroshima. It was the first time we had heard of that place that was to become a universal symbol of man’s inhumanity towards his fellow men.’

No More Hiroshimas, the poem which gives the col…

Tom Paine on Radio 4

'These Are The Times reads like the greatest of novels and is the most thrilling read I’ve had in years!' Kurt Vonnegut

These Are The Times: A Life of Thomas Paine.

Trevor Griffiths's screenplay to be broadcast on Radio 4 beginning this Saturday.
Tom Paine arrives in America penniless just as the struggle for Independence is beginning. His ideas and his writings take him right to the heart of events and his words are read out to Washington's army. Jonathan Pryce plays Thomas Paine in the radio production to be broadcast in two ninety-minute parts on Radio 4'sSaturday Play, beginning this Saturday and concluding Saturday 2nd August (2.30 - 4pm on each day).

The Fight In Britain Against Privatization: Lessons for Us All

A view from the United States
by Mike Tolochko

New Labour’s Attack on Public Services
Dexter Whitfield
ISBN 13 9 780851 247151

“Marketisation and privatisation is more advanced in Britain than any other European country. The precise application of these policies will vary between countries for political, legal and cultural reasons. Nonetheless, there are key lessons from the experience in Britain which should be drawn upon.”

Dexter Whitfield has given activists around the world a true primer on the ravenous, greedy attack on human services in general, but for health care in particular. His point-by-point description of the neo-liberal policies demanded by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization as they apply on-the-ground is nowhere else to be found. He is describing the situation in Britain, a country which has had the longest Labour Party run in the party’s history.

The Tory governments of Margaret Thatcher/John Major did major damage to the p…

Democracy - Growing or Dying?

Democracy Growing or Dying?
The Spokesman 100

This is the hundredth number of The Spokesman, so we are expected to have a birthday party. Nostalgia is in order at such events, and we have accordingly devoted quite a large part of this number to reproducing articles and features which involved us, with many of our readers, in a variety of campaigns to change things for the better. Sometimes these have succeeded, if only, say the sceptics, in provoking our old antagonists to find new ways to make them worse again.

Sometimes they have failed, only to stiffen our resolve to try again, when times may be more propitious for their success.

There are, of course, a number of key concerns which have continuously preoccupied us. There has been no possibility of forgetting, even temporarily, the desperate urgency of the struggle for peace and disarmament. It has been quite possible, but very regrettable, to forget the struggle for the widening and deepening of democracy, and this possibility has be…

Some penguins, a monkey, John Major's Y-fronts and Steve Bell

Steve Bell's cartoons have brightened the Guardian since 1981. We have long admired his work, and were chuffed to bits when he let us use his cartoons for the covers of Common Ownership: Clause IV and the Labour Party and a whole string of issues of The Spokesman, beginning with The Third Way to the Servile State. On Sunday 22nd June he will be at Lowdham to give an illustrative talk about his work.

The Lowdham Book Festival is in its ninth year. It runs from Friday 20th to Saturday 28th June2008 and features a whole host of guest speakers, musicians and workshops. On Saturday 28th the largest book fair in the county will be in full swing and we at Spokesman Books will have a stall selling a range of our titles including many issues of The Spokesman which feature Steve Bell's cartoons.

For further information on the Lowdham Book Festival please visit

We hope to see you there!

1968 and all that

Rudi Dutschke'sThe Students and the Revolution (£2) and Andrée Hoyles' Imagination in Power -- The Occupation of Factories in France in 1968 (£6) are two early Spokesman titles which still figure in our back catalogue. We have just a few copies left of each. These will be available from our stall on Saturday, together with more recent titles, at 1968 AND ALL THAT, the book fair and happening at London's Conway Hall in Red Lion Square (nearest tube Holborn). The doors open at 10am and admission is free.

40 years on from the 'événements' in Paris during that eventful May, there is a rich progamme of events and speakers thoughout the day. They include:

Peter Gowan on the Prague Spring (in the Bertrand Russell Room at 3pm)

Maggie Torres on Anarchism in Spain at 7pm

Albert Beale on Militant Pacifism also at 7pm

Istvan Meszaros on the Credit Crunch and the New Capitalist Crisis at 8pm

More than 50 publishers and booksellers will attend the Book Fair.

A Guy Debord real ale bar w…