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Columns by Mike Marqusee

Success, failure and other political myths

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, December-January 2012-2013 As we approach the tenth anniversary of the global anti-war protest of February 15th, 2003, people are bound to ask what it actually achieved. Certainly it failed to stop the war, a failure for which Iraqis paid and are paying an exorbitant price. So was it a… Read more

1792: This is what revolution looks like

Contending for the living Red Pepper, October-November 2012 In France, 1792 was the year of “the second revolution.” On 10 August, the King was overthrown, bringing to an end three years of uneasy “constitutional monarchy”. For months the Legislative Assembly had been locked in conflict with Louis XVI, while at the same time fighting a… Read more

At the Olympics: Hype vs Reality

The Hindu, August 4 2012 I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary…. Read more

Politics, our missing link

Contending for the Living Red Pepper, August-September 2012 The word comes down to us from ancient Greece, where polis was used to describe the city-states that emerged in the sixth century BC. This polis was more than a community or concentration of individuals. It was a self-conscious unit of self-administration (independent of empires) and from… Read more

Olympic icons

Contending for the Living Red Pepper, June-July 2012 In a world where the words ‘iconic’ and ‘icon’ have been cheapened by gross overuse, it’s salutary to recall their original meanings. In a religious context, an icon is a representation that is more than a representation, an image that contains a power beyond itself. It’s not… Read more

Challenges to secularists

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, April-May 2012 When a High Court judge ruled against Bideford Town Council’s inclusion of prayers in its formal agenda, Tory Communities Secretary Eric Pickles acted quickly, fast-tracking a parliamentary order “effectively reversing” the Court’s decision. By doing so, he crowed, “we are striking a blow for localism over central… Read more

Looking at 2012: negations and affirmations

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, Feb-March 2012 2011 has been hailed in the media as a year of “protest” in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became… Read more

Streets of the imagination

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, October-November 2011 Events over the summer brought to mind William Blake’s uncompromisingly angry poem “London”, written in the early 1790s under the impact of revolution in France and repression at home. The poet wanders “through the charter’d streets / near where the charter’d Thames does flow” where he encounters… Read more

Riots, reason and resistance

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu “Criminality pure and simple” was Prime Minister David Cameron’s initial verdict on the rioting. From the right came the mantra, “Down with sociology! Up with water cannon!” Don’t think but do act – harshly, punitively, peremptorily. In the wake of the riots, a powerful vested interest has been at work… Read more

A summer of cricket and a saga of mounting debt

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 26 June 2011 In a few weeks the India squad will arrive on these shores to commence a demanding two-month tour, playing four Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20. The Test series, in particular, looks set to be a stiff challenge for both sides and the result may well seal… Read more