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Contending for the Living

John Ford: melancholy democrat

Contending for the Living Red Pepper, October-November 2010 The fact that Stagecoach, a milestone in the development of the Western and the first complete masterpiece of its director, John Ford, begins with the announcement that “Geronimo has jumped the reservation” and the Apache are “on the warpath” may be enough to put many off the… Read more

Insisting on an alternative: meeting the challenge of the cuts

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, August-September 2010 In Act IV Scene i of King Lear, the blinded, humbled, suicidal Earl of Gloucester hands his purse to the naked madman, ‘Poor Tom’ (actually Gloucester’s ill-used son, Edgar) and as he does so observes, “So distribution should undo excess, / And each man have enough.” Shakespeare’s… Read more

Contesting white supremacy

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, June-July 2010 Back in August, in the wake of BNP success in the Euro-elections, Red Pepper ran a debate about anti-fascist strategy. Although a good start to a necessary discussion, too much of it was polarised between an attack on and a defence of existing strategies and structures. While… Read more

Britain’s no choice election

Red Pepper, April-May 2010 CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING While the outcome of the general election may be in doubt, the insubstantial nature of the political frenzy preceding it is entirely predictable. The ping-pong of buzzwords and soundbites, the hunt for gaffes, the formulaic promises to “listen”, the gurgle of briefings and punditry: the dismal spectacle… Read more

Not pop as we know it: flamenco and the quest for authenticity

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, Feb-March 2010 This article has appeared in a revised form on The Guardian’s Comment is free website. Flamenco is a name widely known but a music little understood, at least beyond its Andalusian heartland. Forget about Hollywood images of flounces and castanets. Even the bravura solo guitarists and dance… Read more

Busting the straitjacket

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, December-January Rolling back the new ‘common sense’ of spending cuts may seem like a difficult job, but it’s not impossible, says Mike Marqusee It’s now clear that cuts in public spending, and resistance to them, will be the stand-out issue in domestic British politics during the coming years. The… Read more

The misbegotten “war against cancer”

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, October-November 2009 Obituaries routinely inform us that so-and-so has died “after a brave battle against cancer”. I’m waiting for the day I get to read one that says so-and-so has died “after a pathetically feeble battle against cancer… ” One thing I’ve come to appreciate since I was diagnosed… Read more

Neither a business nor a cause

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, August-September 2009 Cricket emerges as the world’s first, modern organised team sport in the late 18th century, and is indelibly marked by that early origin. Its fate was intertwined with the political and economic revolutions of the era, and was shaped from the outset by a paradoxical mixture of… Read more

Thomas Paine: restless democrat

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, June-July 2009 “This interment was a scene to affect and to wound any sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it was, that we were committing to an obscure grave on an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help but feel most acutely.” The occasion… Read more

The real thing

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, April-May 2009 [‘Contending for the Living’ is Mike’s new column for Red Pepper.] Something special took place in Durban in February and though the media have rushed past, we should pause. In solidarity with the people of Gaza, dockworker members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union… Read more