Review of ‘Dangerous Hero: Corbyn's ruthless plot for power’, by Tom Bower

This book posits that the hard left plans to end democracy in Britain. Describing the aftermath of the 2015 Labour leadership election, Bower writes:

‘Commentators criticised Corbyn's ‘poverty of ambition’ for failing to win the political centre, but they misunderstood. As unwilling as ever to compromise, he planned to defeat the PLP, transform Labour into a genuinely Marxist party, and win sufficient electoral votes to become prime minister. Just the one victory would be enough. Thereafter, McDonnell boasted, their changes would be ‘irreversible’. [ … ] Just as Corbyn and McDonnell intended to revise the Labour Party's rules to permanently protect their coup from any challenge by social democrats, they would change the British constitution to cement their victory. The result of the second general election would be a foregone conclusion.’

This may seem like a paranoid conspiracy theory but, by telling Jeremy Corbyn's life story, Tom Bower tries to show that it isn't as paranoid as it sounds.

The book is a tabloid hatchet job, its nature given away by the large typeface. Throughout the book Bower regularly assumes the reader holds a number of conservative attitudes thereby potentially alienating readers who don't, probably the very ones he is most trying to convince, in whose minds those of the book's criticisms that are genuinely valid may be devalued. For example:

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Book review: ‘Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming’, by Andreas Malm.

When I bought this book I thought it was going to be a history of steam power in the textile industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I was looking forward to reading about cross‑compound engines, Corliss valve gear, centrifugal governors and indicator diagrams.

When I opened it I was surprised to discover that it is, in fact, a sequel to Karl Marx’s Capital. It attempts to weave (no pun intended) the idea of fossil fuel into the fabric of Marx’s theory of class struggle. It aims to show that capitalism and fossil energy are so intimately connected that they cannot be separated, from which it follows, according to the author, that only the overthrow of capitalism can avert climate change.

The book is full of words and phrases that only Marxists use, such as ‘structural crisis’, ‘surplus value’, ‘historical process’, ‘commodity fetishism’, ‘primitive accumulation’, ‘subsumption of labour’, ‘property relations’ and even ‘bourgeois property relations’. The author appears to have a checklist of ideas from Das Kap and to be ticking them off one by one.

I should have guessed from its title that it would be something like this, in which case I wouldn’t have bought it. If you are tempted to buy it for the same reason as I was you now know everything you need to know about it and I will forgive you if you don’t read any further.

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