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Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Puffin. First published 1908
I have always been bookish. I was brought up in a working class home and my father took me to the library every week. He was an avid reader and we would come back weighed down with our spoils. Most of my favourites had as their central character a girl who was strong and feisty and was valued in the end for being smart rather than beautiful! Anne was one of those. The book meant something special because I was given it as a prize and my mother, who had left school at 14 and rarely had time for the indulgence of reading, was thrilled when I brought it home. She wistfully remembered it from when she was at school and she read it again. Sharing it with her meant so much to me and I still love discussing books with other people. It’s like sharing food.
Grapes of Wrath
Penguin. First published 1939
The few books of our own we had at home were either good Catholic stories about the saints and martyrs or leftish books belonging to my father. They lived on a little bookshelf attached to a bureau, which was my mother’s prized piece of furniture. The books were novels by American authors like Jack London, Howard Fast and John Steinbeck, which my father had read when he was young and reflected his own political leanings. I read Grapes of Wrath when I was 13 and I was enraged at the way the bankers and big corporations exploited the farmers, driving them into destitution. We were a Labour family, but it was reading that put flesh on the bones of my socialism.
Letters from Prison
Columbia Univ Press 1994
I think Gramsci is one of the most important political figures of the 20th century. Through him I came to understand how people consent to their own oppression. We only have to look around now to see how his concept of cultural hegemony works so effectively. The values of a particular class become the ‘common-sense’ values of all and ordinary folk identify their own good with that of the rich.
The Women’s Room
Virago. First published 1977
The 1970s produced many great feminist books – novels and political analysis about patriarchy, entrenched inequality and double sexual standards. Marilyn French made it all come alive in the pages of her novel. My courtroom experience was what blew open my own real understanding of the way women suffered multiple disadvantages in a society that was organised from the perspective of men.
ed Neil Astley
I have always loved poetry and read it regularly for pleasure. I like how a few words can be so expressive of profound emotion. This is a wonderful anthology and it includes some work of a friend, Mary Oliver, one of the great contemporary American poets.
Heart of Darkness
Penguin. First published 1899
This is the book to read about colonialism and racist exploitation. It tells the story of Marlow, who is commissioned to go to the Congo to bring back the disappeared Kurtz, a key figure in a European company that is sucking the natural resources out of central Africa. All the justifications for colonial occupation are rehearsed – bringing ‘civilisation’ to the natives. Now we describe it as bringing ‘democracy’. The film Apocalypse Now was a contemporary rendition of the tale. An unforgettable book.
A People’s History of the
Harper Perennial. First published 1980
Howard Zinn was one of the truly great men of America. He died recently, still a socialist and campaigner. His history of the United States is a challenge to the patriotic jingoism that mutes the horror stories of what happened to native Americans and slaves, the nightmare of McCarthyism and Jim Crow laws, the shame of his country’s role in Vietnam and South America. However, this is no ‘self-hating’ American Jew. He tells the wonderful true stories of America’s greatness – the former welcome to the world’s huddled masses fleeing persecution, the struggles by ordinary people for trade union rights and by black people for civil rights. All his books are inspirational but this is the one that everyone should read.
Penguin. First published 1925
Some books have eternal truths and should be revisited at regular intervals. This is one of them. My life as a trial lawyer has made me a firm believer in open processes with a jury of ordinary people hearing the evidence. Over many years I have done a large amount of terrorist work but this is the worst time I have ever known for injustice. Currently, control order cases and hearings to deport people are frequently heard in secret. Neither the detainees nor their lawyers of choice get to hear the evidence against them. Special advocates hear the secret evidence but are not allowed to discuss it with the detainee. Kafka is dead. Long live Kafka.
Helena Kennedy QC is a leading barrister and expert in human rights law and civil liberties
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook