Reviews

1 September 2001 Alan Paxton

Green Books, 2000. ISBN 1 870098 92 7. 299pp. £10.95

“We started in a small way, but now this has snowballed to an extent where you don't know what will happen next....” (Guardian Weekly, 14 September 2000). It was one of the most successful protests in Britain for years, causing severe disruption to road and rail transport. Within two months the government was making concessions to the protesters' demands - lower taxes on road vehicles and their fuel.

Resistance and empowerment are sometimes commanded by activists almost as ends in themselves. But are some forms of empowerment right…

1 September 2001 Martyn Lowe

House of Stratus, 2000. ISBN 1 84232 071 8

Here is an interesting question for you: how does the military protect its soldiers from chemical weapons? The answer, of course, is by exposing them to these toxic gases in “controlled” experiments, as “human guinea pigs”.

Since the British Government opened the “chemical warfare experimental establishment” at Porton Down in 1916, it is estimated that some 30,000 military personnel have been used in such tests.

Porton scientists also conducted these test on themselves. Tests that included giving themselves doses of…

1 September 2001 Juliet McBride

Pluto Press 2001. ISBN 0 7453 1452.135 pages

Though a relatively short book, this is a dense and scholarly work. It attempts to contextualise human rights within a three-fold setting - the philosophical, the legal and the political - with the emphasis on the latter, and usually least acknowledged, area.

It is a book which needs careful reading since it condenses many of the current and past theories in international relations, and critiques them in the light of the new era of globalisation, whilst never losing sight of what actually happens on the ground.

The basic…

1 September 2001 Ippy D

72 mins, audio CD; See http://www.consolidatedmusic.org/

This is Consolidated's seventh full-length studio album, and while perhaps their most musically diverse,certain political themes remain a constant feature of all their work.

It's a musical journey which touches on blues, rock, industrial and hiphop. The End of Meaning has several outstanding tracks: I rather liked the shambling hip-hop of You Go Dude; the anti-porn rant of Speech and Harm ; and the industrial intensity of Fall of the Culture Industry . A sprinkling of snippets from demos, actions…

1 September 2001 Simon Dixon

Pluto Press, 2000. ISBN 0 7453 1542 9 (Paperback) 188pp

While I was reading this book, the north of England saw some of the worst race riots in Britain for over a decade. In the lead-up to the recent General Election, main-stream politicians competed with one another to see who could produce the most right-wing immigration policies. In Oldham,one of the cities worst hit by the race riots, the leader of the far-right British National Party polled just under 15% of the vote. It is for these reasons that Teresa Hayter's book could not havebeen published at a better time.

Broadly speaking,…

1 September 2001 Loukas Christodoulou

Earthscan, 2000. ISBN 1 853836 12 5. 290pp £10.99

This is a revolutionary book; but Colin Hines doesn't believe in revolution.

The book's main point - that capitalist globalisation of the economy must be replaced by business and production based on the local - is a radical one, but he does not see a social shake-up on the cards.

Most of his argument seems to be directed at the supporters of the free market to convince them that localisation is necessary and possible. Chapter titles such as “Localisation will Bale Out the Market” stake out the position of the former…

1 September 2001 Carol Rank

Zed Books, London, in association with Responding to Conflict, Birmingham, 2000. ISBN 1 85649 837 9. 185 pp

The organisation Responding to Conflict, based in Birmingham, Britain, which produced this excel-lent resource-guide, recently had its tenth anniversary celebration.

This book is based on what all the people coming to their courses over the years have learned. As described by Simon Fisher, founder and director of Responding to Conflict, the aim of the organisation and of this book is to help people solve their own problems, and in that it succeeds very well.

It is mainly oriented toward people working in “middle-level”…

1 September 2001 Andreas Speck

New Society Publishers 2001. ISBN 0 86571 418 5. 256 pp

This book is long overdue. Since Bill Moyer developed the Movement Action Plan (MAP) in the early 1980s, it has only been available in newspaper format, and in two separate parts. Doing Democracy now not only presents the entire MAP, it also includes five case studies, showing how MAP can help in analysing a movement.

The first time I heard about MAP was probably at a seminar in 1993. The eight stages and four roles of social movements then proved to be very helpful in understanding the position of the small environmental movement I…

1 September 2001 Trevor Curnow

Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0 415 24998 8, 660 pp, £25

In September 1961, at the age o f89, Bertrand Russell was sent to prison. He had been prosecuted for his involvement in the demonstrations against nuclear weapons organised by the Committee of 100. If a sentence of one week (reduced from two months on health grounds) was scarcely sufficient to make him a martyr, it was enough to cement his international reputation as a crusader for peace.

That crusade had begun for him as early as the First World War, when he had been a conscientious objector. His pacifist activities then had also…

1 June 2001 Steve Dorney

Artificial Eye Film Co, France 1998, UK video release 2000. Running time 90 mins [French with English subtitles].

A dreamlike account of dysfunctional life in the modern French Foreign Legion. Stuck in Marseilles after being cast out from his beloved military “family”, Staff Sergeant Galoup recalls his time in Djibouti as a sun-baked idyll.

From Galoup's remembered perspective the East African landscape seems to be populated with happy, compliant locals and the eroticised bodies of legionnaires. But as Galoup himself says, “viewpoints count”, and this nostalgia-laden view of the post-colonial world is slowly unpicked as the film progresses. The…

1 June 2001 Sarah Irving

Latin America Bureau, 2000. ISBN 1 899365 30 3. £8.99

This is a book to make you cry with pain or inspiration and joy. Some of the testimonies in it come from the depths of a misery that drives young women, just starting out in life, to declare that “we prefer to die fighting than because of cholera or dysentery”.

Others speak of the incredible strength and determination of women rejecting their traditional roles in order to struggle against poverty, domestic and political violence, the absence of healthcare and education. Mention of the Zapatistas usually conjures up images of…

1 June 2001 Rose Lindsey

Zed Books, 1998, 247 pp. £14.95/$25.00 (paper)

Cynthia Cockburn's book draws on three case studies to examine how women of differing ethnicities, living in conflict zones, work together within an NGO setting, to achieve better conditions for women within their communities.

The three case studies she uses are: the Women's Support Network, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Bat Shalom of Megiddo, Nazareth and the Valleys, Israel and Palestine; and Medica Women's Therapy Centre, Zenica, central Bosnia.

In her introductory chapter “Women and Nationalism” Cockburn identifies the focus…

1 June 2001 Andrew Rigby

Saqi Books, 2000. ISBN 0 86356 043. 294 pp

Over recent years, writings on gender in the Middle East have tended to focus on the status of women under Islam. The contributors to this volume, by contrast, explore the manner in which male identities are created and reproduced in different societies and settings within the Middle East.

What the contributors share is the basic assumption that masculinity is socially constructed, there is no fixed determinant of “male-ness”. What surprised me in reading some of the accounts of how masculinity is constructed in key situations is…

1 June 2001 Sian Jones

Zed Books 2000, 246 pp. ISBN 1 85649 656 2

In a volume that ranges the whole spectrum of violence against women – from the state to the domestic – States of Conflict presents a snapshot of recent feminist research on gender and violence.

But though the global view presented and the varied perspectives they employed was refreshing, my overall feeling was that the diverse approach ultimately combined to give the general reader little more than an introduction to, rather than an overall analysis of, women's responses to and experience of violence. The quality of the chapters…

1 June 2001 Simon Dixon

Praeger, 2000. ISBN 0 275 96859 6. 264 pages, 14 photos. $24.95.

Love them or loathe them, the James Bond films and novels comprise one of the most significant British cultural phenomena of the last fifty years.

For Black, among the central themes are the impact of the Second World War upon western culture, the declining importance of Britain on the world stage and changing relations between the west and Russia. He also gives a great deal of consideration to changing attitudes towards gender, race and ethnicity throughout the period.

In a perceptive chapter dealing with gender and sexual…