Celebrate People’s History: the poster book of resistance and revolution
Edited by Josh MacPhee
The Feminist Press
From Barcelona in 1936 to Paris in 1968 and the ateliers populaires, revolutionary moments have produced posters that go beyond mere propaganda value and into artistic innovation. But does the revolutionary poster have a role on the streets in the quiet times too? Josh MacPhee, whose Celebrate People’s History (CPH) project has been running since 1998, thinks it does. His purpose, though, is not to exhort or cajole, but to remember and bring to life the deliberately buried history of the struggle of ordinary (and extraordinary) people for dignity, justice and freedom.
In this way, the CPH posters distinguish themselves from the majority of left posters, which either simply advertise an event, or depict a problem that we need to do something about. Furthermore, though CPH posters declare themselves a part of that series, they suggest no other affiliation and concentrate instead on the work of historical exposition.
This book brings together all the posters so far, involving the work of nearly a hundred artists. Each takes a struggle, successful or otherwise, and makes it into an iconic poster. Subjects range from the 1941 Disney animators strike, to the Korean Peasants League, to the original CPH poster celebrating Malcolm X.
Though selling the posters (see www.justseeds.org) has helped pay for the project, these are meant to be flyposted, and pasting them up across various US cities has been integral from the beginning. The streets and their walls are thus reclaimed from ubiquitous advertising, or from simple dereliction, by snapshots from a history of struggle.
Inevitably for an American project, the collection leans towards US subject matter, but in doing so reveals what a fascinating radical history that country has. Anyone receiving this book, and it is an ideal present, is sure to want to find out more about the people, organisations and events featured. If they’re anything like me, they may even be tempted to go out and form a revolutionary poster collective of their own.
#227 Democratic Dictators ● The psychology of authoritarianism ● Does national pride have a place on the left? ● Keep police out of schools ● Video games special ● The new left MPs ● Speaking to local organisers ● Simon Hedges’ column ● Book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Radical publishing houses are under existential threat - just as people look for ways to fill their time. Siobhan McGuirk and K Biswas select lockdown reads from our favourite booksellers
The far right thrives on 'economic anxiety and cultural backlash' argues Dawn Foster in a review of Cas Mudde's latest book
Two well-known voices on the British left, Paul Mason and Aaron Bastani, have outlined what they see as the revolutionary potential of technology. K. Biswas reviews their visions
Suki Ferguson reviews the XR guide to climate activism
A collection of essays which could be a key resource for those seeking to create economic alternatives, edited by Catherine Samary and Fred Leplat. Reviewed by Derek Wall
A book that systematically unpicks the myths that are spread in order to preserve the status quo, written by Nesrine Malik. Reviewed by Leah Cowan