Book Review: Sheila Rowbotham et al., “Beyond the Fragments”

The collection of socialist feminist arguments and lectures collected in 1979 under the title Beyond the Fragments is due a re-read in our present times. After the crisis in the SWP and the lengthy debates on the relationship between Marxist organisation and the ‘social movements’, often as vituperative as they have been inconclusive, the need to go beyond the fragments of each individual movement and find resources for a common purpose is as great as ever. What is striking about this collection is therefore how little dated it is – the occasional reference to the influence of the CPGB or the rule of Callaghan’s Labour aside, most of it reads like it had been written last week. For this reason, it is worth revisiting especially the opening essay by Sheila Rowbotham, which takes up most of the book. While the other two essays, by Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright, emphasize also the practical and organisational significance of the women’s movement on the politics of the radical left, it is Rowbotham’s essay that most thoroughly gives a theoretical exposition of the flaws and failures of that radical left in taking up these lessons. Continue reading “Book Review: Sheila Rowbotham et al., “Beyond the Fragments””

R.I.P. Chris Harman (1942-2009)

The news has come to us of the death of the well-known socialist author Chris Harman, who has suddenly and prematurely passed away as the result of a heart attack in Cairo.(1) He was a popular and active author of works of a historical and economic nature seen from a socialist perspective, a perspective he developed as a student at the London School of Economics. In particular his work about the movement of Paris 1968, The Fire Next Time, and his Marxist history of the world for a popular audience, A People’s History of the World, have justly become famous. Continue reading “R.I.P. Chris Harman (1942-2009)”