Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Birthday verse

The Verso Book of Dissent: From Spartacus to the Shoe Thrower of Baghdad, edited by Andrew Hsiao and Audrea Lim, reviewed by Jennie Bailey

March 6, 2011
2 min read

From the Greek riots to students demonstrating against tuition fees in the UK, from global activism against the Canadian tar sands to Irish protesters opposing the IMF bailout, 2010 was a good year for dissent. What better to celebrate the unashamedly leftist publisher Verso’s 40th birthday, then, than a book that attempts to chronicle nearly 4,000 years of fighting for what one believes in?

In an ambitious attempt to chronicle the people and movements that have significantly influenced the activists and left thinkers of today, the editors have laid out dissenters and dissenting organisations in clear sections that one can dip in and out of. However, while the structure of the book is sound, the 20th century accounts for the majority of entries and I found earlier eras lacking in detail. The inclusion of nearly four pages of The Communist Manifesto was also unnecessary, as the reader could have been sign-posted to this text.

There are controversial inclusions (Lenin and Valerie Solanas) and glaring omissions (Mary Wollstonecraft, Vandana Shiva and Milan Rai among others), although the authors do acknowledge the latter in the introduction to the book. The excerpts covering anonymous organisations such as the Weather Underground and the Acme Collective are enlightening, but it would be nice to see some environmental movements represented, such as the Landless Peasants Movement, and a nod to the mid-2000s anti-capitalist Dissent! activists.

This book should be read alongside similar texts, including The Vintage Book of Dissent edited by Michael Rosen and David Widgery – an essential introduction and a wonderful book – and We Are Everywhere by Notes from Nowhere. The Verso Book of Dissent is a more than welcome addition to the radical history canon and future editions should be anticipated enthusiastically. Dissent is not static; neither is history. Now, dear reader, out of your armchair and onto the streets!


Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.

Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani

Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week

A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes

Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns