Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
So You Think You Know About Britain?
Kind, reasonable, sane and very much evidence-based, this book is a valuable reminder that the view of the country given out by tabloid newspapers and irresponsible government speeches is false and unhelpful. Danny Dorling’s work has changed my life because he is able to argue reasonably (and more coherently than I ever could) for a kind of society that would be fairer, more functional and more socially responsible. The last chapter ‘The future is another place’ inspired my last stand up show. Plus it’s got loads of funny footnotes, too.
This book was given to me as a Valentine’s gift by my childhood sweetheart. It’s largely about how to improvise onstage but it’s almost a manual for creative thought and behaviour. It taught me all about spontaneity and confidence as well as storytelling. The book’s driving message is about finding and then trusting and keeping your own sense of authenticity in your creative work.
I first read this aged 13 and I found it thrilling and empowering right from the Juan Ramón Jiménez quote at the start: ‘If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.’ That sense of creative defiance set something off in me. Clarisse and her family, who are seen as suspicious and radical because they talk to one another and go on walks together, were my favourite characters. I love how it feels dystopian and realistic all at once, and I think it’s a very poetic book in style but also full of action like a bloody good film.
Slapstick or Lonesome No More
Finding the books of Kurt Vonnegut was like finding a much-needed friend. The tone of his writing connected with me and I think it has inspired me more than anyone else’s. All of his books, even ones that seem deeply sad or dour, are underpinned by a kindness and deep love of other human beings. He taught me about socialism and humanism in a sincere and meaningful way, while staying silly and also keeping his chapters short, which is a big plus point in my opinion. This is my favourite of his.
V for Vendetta
Alan Moore is another very inspiring human being. His integrity and intellect are poured into everything he writes and it’s very helpful to have them around. I love this graphic novel, and my favourite part is this: ‘Everything is connected. You must understand that knowledge is not all your heritage. It includes also courage and belief . . . and romance. Always, always romance.’ It gives me courage and helps me feel more audacious about trying to make the world closer to how I’d like it.
The Easter Parade
A lot of the fiction I love is terse, American and sad, and written around the middle of the 20th century. Richard Yates is the most wonderful example. Everything he has written is good, but there’s something most devastating about The Easter Parade. It’s about two sisters who want to be happy and are not. I really love the way that Yates can pace a novel over a character’s entire life, showing them to have little control over their flaws and their circumstances.
For similar reasons to choosing Richard Yates, I love the work of Raymond Carver. I know it’s a bit of a cheat to choose his collected stories but I don’t know how I’d choose one volume of his over another. I love how sparsely written but affecting his work is, and I’m a sucker for someone writing within a quite tragic universe. I think it’s masterful and unparalleled what he manages to do with short stories.
The Whitsun Weddings
I think this is the most lyrical of Larkin’s volumes of poetry, and it was the first I bought (with a book token I won as a nerdy teen in a creative writing competition). I just think it’s fantastic, and I can read it again and again. It’s very sad, and full of sympathy and not cynicism, which I think he gets wrongly accused of. It’s not in this volume but I’ve been thinking a lot recently of a quote from one of his uncollected poems ‘The Mower’: ‘We should be careful/Of each other, we should be kind/While there is still time.’
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