Reading Manifesto

In the midst of the 2015 General Election campaign, Mark Perryman produces his own reading manifesto, with a run down of the quarter’s books with a political edge.

Woody Guthrie and the Dustbowl Ballads

The much-missed indie band, well by some of us of a certain age, Sultans of Ping, had a great line in one of their barnstormer numbers “I like your manifesto, put it to the test ’tho.” We are told in all seriousness that this is the most important General Election, ever, yet it will be fought between the three parties of the mainstream with ever-decreasing differences in their politics. Most important? Not in those terms, the importance lies almost entirely in the busting apart of the Westminster cartel, the centre this time really won’t hold.

Veteran rebel, aka 1960s ‘street fighting man’, Tariq Ali proves the durability of a counter-cultural idealism. Tariq’s new book Extreme Centre is a splendid denunciation of the battle for the middle ground and never mind the rest of us. After Neoliberalism? and its companion volume  The Neoliberal Crisis are both framed by a similar 1968-inflected politics to Tariq Ali’s. A shared belief that another politics is not only necessary but possible. As the dull grey reality of #GE2015 threatens to smother any lingering hope these are essential reads. An optimism of the intellect revived by a new wave of writers, thinkers and activists too. Owen Jones is nothing short of a phenomenon, someone from the left who can brighten up the dullest of TV studio debates, a wilful energy to inspire that is founded on good writing. His latest, The Establishment is more than enough to convince anyone of the maxim ‘whoever we vote for the government always gets in.” Continue reading…