An essay collection united around an examination of class, justice, and social perception, D. Hunter’s Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitorsa powerful set of arguments delivered in a tone that switches from the personal to the academic with ease. Blending scholarship with experience, Hunter adopts the methodological framework of the auto/ethnography, and attempts to situate his often harrowing life experience within a framework that embraces class politics, restorative justice, and social understanding over the course of ten essays of varying length. As the author tells us in the introduction to the collection, ‘’one of the aims of this book was to emphasise not only the humanity, but also the insight, intellect, and determination of those living in poverty.’’

Following the author’s previous book Chav Solidarity, the thematic through-line is obvious, and Tracksuits follows through on many of the themes that were established previously. Despite this, there is no need to have read the prior work to understand the new one; this is perhaps one of the largest strengths of Tracksuits, as Hunter’s writing is clear and accessible even when dealing with some of the more academic subjects. Marrying the unornamented and raw background of their life experiences with the theoretical allows a window of insight that should make even those without much background in theory to dive in without any issue. This conversational and almost casual tone combined with the brevity of many of the essays makes it excellent introductory reading, and would be easy to pick up and dive into for anybody at any level of academic experience.

Hunter’s essay collection begins with a content warning, and although this review will not touch on everything mentioned by the author, it is my responsibility to warn any prospective readers to take the content warning serious; discussions of mental health issues, violence, drug usage, and sexual abuse are frequent throughout the book and there are visceral moments in the reading which may be difficult.

A question that is commonly asked is the role of theory and analysis on the left: for many, it is an interesting curiosity, but there is a lot of discussion of how central it should be. There are some who suggest that it is, in fact, obnoxious to insist on analysis; further, there are those who claim that theory is a barrier to the ‘real working class’, getting in the way of Real Politics. While there is some truth to that – others have written before on the class barriers built into education, as well as the difficulty of certain authors – there are also many (of whom I am a representative, in a small way) who believe that theory is often powerful and liberatory, and that there is an inbuilt classism and derision in insisting that people who are working class or from traumatic backgrounds are unable to grasp ‘advanced’ concepts.

Hunter provides a powerful example of the way theory should be used, or at least one vision for how it could be. Utilising the framework of personal experience, lived encounters with the harsh realities of life under the myriad oppressive structures of modern capitalist society, Hunter leans over the boundary between the ‘real’ class conflict and the analysis. Here, theory is a way to consider experience, to step back and think about it, rather than to dissociate from it, and Hunter’s writing moves from the merely demonstrative to the functional when it funnels trauma into, for example, ideas of restorative justice.

In the first major essay of the collection, ‘Naming Football Teams’, the question ultimately arises of how one is supposed to deal with having been wronged. Without going into the specifics, there is essentially a scenario in which somebody has harmed another in a way that seems to, under the current shape of society, scream out for punishment; for vengeance, even. There is a punitive urge that underlies out current cultural logic, but Hunter calls instead for ‘a form of justice that does not require cages, keys, police, courts, and a violent class system’, but rather a process designed to ‘deconstruct abusive interpersonal relationships, and generate responses to them which do not merely reproduce the same dynamics’. Essentially, it is a call for a justice based on empathy, but Hunter is not simply engaging in wishful thinking here: referencing various cultures which have engaged (and continue to engage) in justice that differs greatly from the carceral, as well as philosophers and activist groups, the outlines that reconciliatory justice may take are eminently practical, and yet are informed by the theory.

Another great strength of Hunter’s writing must be highlighted here; it is all too easy for somebody who is distanced from, say, Indigenous American culture to simply point to the Other from the comfort of whiteness and decide to pick and choose which elements of this culture are fit to adopt. Avoiding this trap, however, Hunter tries to clarify that they are ‘’careful not to stake a claim to ownership of these ideas’’. Vital to avoid a kind of mythologising of the Other, Hunter acknowledges these other justice systems as ideas from which to draw inspiration, to prompt the thought that there are other ways to do things, rather than simply claiming that any one none-white, none-European tradition is the true path to peace.

Careful consideration of race at the intersection of class returns more prominently in another later essay, ‘You’re Just a White Boy’. While the title of this essay from other authors could be worrying – we’re not going to get another self-serving narrative about the problems of being dismissed as white in progressive spaces, are we? – Hunter quickly does away with that, opening with a quote from Jackie Wang’s incisive book Carceral Capitalism, which describes whiteness as ‘’a category [that] is, in part, maintained by ritualized violence against black people’’, and the discussion does not get any more conciliatory from there. Hunter details his relationship with MD, someone who they have known for a long period of time and who is currently in prison, and whose blackness contrasts heavily with Hunter’s whiteness despite their shared experiences and background, and who is not afraid to confront Hunter with this; ‘’ He tells me he doesn't know how much of my willingness to make the worst possible decision in every situation was generated by the assumption that being white I would get away with stuff. […] I reply by telling him that as a white person some of those repercussions don't apply. He nods, but looks far off over my shoulder and says, “I reckon you don't think they should, either”.’’

Hunter’s willingness to be challenged in these circumstances and to discuss the nature of that challenge is admirable, though it must be noted that admiration is clearly not the intention here. Moving from this personal connection and contemplation in a way that has become trademark of the author by this point in the book, Hunter crashes from anecdote to theory: ‘’ whiteness becomes a stigma that can nevertheless be inhabited as long as it is reflexively acknowledged as stigma.”, as the quote is given. Reminiscent of Slavoj Žižek’s conception of the ‘’liberal communist’’, who simultaneously disavows capitalism and inhabits it fully, allowing the disavowal to absolve him of his behaviour, Hunter outlines a perspective on race wherein as long as whiteness is performatively acknowledged and apologised for, it can be effectively surpassed. This perspective is rejected in part, in favour of a critique of whiteness that becomes more granular and sees the varieties of whiteness spread through the intersection of class and gender and sexuality and which acts in concrete ways to change everyday life. Yet we are reminded as the essay closes that this kind of examination, while important, is also one that is in part facilitated by the privilege whiteness grants: ‘’black people don’t make these cages, we just live in them. We just die in them. White people make them.’’, MD reminds us.

‘You’re Just a White Boy’ may be one of the most contentious pieces in the collection, if only for the difficulty in discussing such a monumental issue from a perspective that is necessarily cut off from that reality. Hunter takes great pains to be careful with the subject of race, acknowledging and expressing understanding of his own racial background and the differences in material conditions and experiences that people from other racial backgrounds have had to live with, but it is a difficult balance to strike. For some, it may not be entirely successful, but it does seem to be honest and frank, which mitigates some of the worst tendencies that this kind of writing can often inhabit: if it is not successful, it is at least not in bad faith, which is far from the worst misstep one could make when writing something of this kind.

While it would be very easy for me to continue in this fashion, recounting and detailing particular essays, that would be missing the point; the examples and discussions above serve to demonstrate some of the particulars to a reader and to examine that style of the analysis Tracksuits contains, but it would be inappropriate for me to continue removing pieces from context and breaking them down; instead, it is important to discuss the conclusions. After detailing and discussing various aspects of their own life and the lives of others, Hunter concludes with the following lines that echo Michel Foucault’s call in his introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, which instructed us to kill the fascist inside our heads;

‘’We need to abolish the White supremacist in us, the ableist, the patriarch, the transphobe, the parts of ourselves that still think, feel, act and organise as if some humans are worth more than others, that some bodies matter more. This is collective work, this is done in vulnerability with one another, and with an openness to making mistakes, speaking the worst of ourselves and trusting in “our” class that we can find new answers to old questions.’’

This is the fundamental takeaway from Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors; the idea that the it is only through collective and communal work that recognises that the flaws in most people are not the result of their personal unpleasantness (although that can be a factor) but are in fact expressions of their lives, their circumstances, and the culture in which they have lived and survived. We have patriarchy inside us because it is impossible to escape the world, and the world is patriarchal; this is the same for white supremacy or ableism, or homophobia and transphobia, which are so commonplace as to be banal if not for their insidiousness. The way through this is not to personally disavow these things, as if stubborn refusal could change the world, but to work together, to communicate, to provide material aid wherever possible, and to challenge the world on our own terms and with the staunch acknowledgement that everyday life can and must be different.

While it is certainly possible to quibble with elements of Tracksuits – some people will certainly find the more graphic passages uncomfortable or even impossible to read, depending on their own experiences, and it is true that the tonal shifts can be abrupt and somewhat rough here and there – the final result of the collection is one that expresses solidarity and makes a demand for a new world that is made together. Ultimately, while Tracksuits fails to be a silver bullet for the world of social ills, and definitely will not be for everyone’s tastes, it does present a detailed portrait of a life lived in extreme difficulty but with a sense of awareness and sensitivity that is often left out of these kinds of narratives. Weaving back and forth through critical writing and biography, it is an experience that isn’t easily forgotten and which points arrows at many of the right places.

Jay Fraser

Jay is an anarchist, poet, amateur philosopher, and basketball fan. He can be found on Twitter, or anywhere that has good coffee.

Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors by D. Hunter
is available for pre-order from The Class Work Project and will be be released on the August 4th. You can follow D. Hunter on Twitter at @dhuntertheclaretchav

Carne Ross’ The Leaderless Revolution is refreshing because of its atypical perspective. Contemporary anarchist literature is often written by academics who have studied political theory, or by working class people, who have struggled in a Neo-liberal capitalist society, and understand the need for change. Ross is neither of these; a former British diplomat, he was a lead official at Britain's mission at the United Nations in New York dealing with Iraq. He was responsible for the policy on weapons of mass destruction and the pre-war sanctions. Ross states that Britain and their allies knew that Saddam Hussein did not possess significant WMD. Therefore, the sanctions and the subsequent invasion of Iraq were unjustified, and led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary civilian deaths. Rather than critiquing the establishment, their systems and institutions from the outside, Ross has been enmeshed in the inner workings of the machine, and has decided it is broken.

This book is for those new to anarchism as a political theory, but who are dissatisfied with the state of the world, and yearn for something better. Many veteran anarchists’ first reaction to Carne Ross might be one of distrust - he was part of the establishment, he wears a suit, looks like a civil servant, and is still involved in international diplomacy, albeit advocating independently for marginalised groups. However, the fact that he is a non-conventional anarchist, might be Ross’ greatest strength. Brexit and Trump were arguably a result of people’s dissatisfaction with current systems, and a desire for radical change. Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have engaged a wide range of people not normally involved in radical politics. This seems a potentially fertile time for enlisting people to anarchism, and many might be more easily recruited to the cause by a well-spoken, respectable former diplomat, than a dreadlocked crusty with a black bandana over their face. Ross’ experience and former position afford him an air of respectability and legitimacy that may make his messages more palatable for many people.

Ross eschews established examples of anarchism in action, such as the Paris Commune or Spanish Civil War, instead presenting more contemporary examples, such as the autonomous region of Rojava in North-eastern Syria, participatory democracy at the municipal level in Porto Allege, Brazil, or even communities’ abilities to respond to their own needs following emergency situations more effectively than the authorities and institutions entrusted to do so, as witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or the Grenfell Tower fire.

Where Ross’ vision of an egalitarian society differs from many anarchists is his commitment to non-violence, and his suggestion of a gradual transition to an anarchist society, rather than through revolution. The belief that large worker-owned co-operative institutions could be built within a capitalist state, and that they would be so appealing, and productive, that the existing capitalist alternatives would simply wither away, demonstrates a naivety on Ross’ part. This book is a gateway drug, which will hopefully lead people to seek out stronger substances in the future. ■

Stuart Barton is a teacher and trade unionist, based in the West Midlands. You can check out his other writing on his website, as well as his Facebook and Twitter pages.


In the summer drought of 2018, rivers across Europe hit record low levels, revealing ‘hunger stones’, warnings from past generations that if the water level gets this low, pain is coming. One stone in the River Elbe read ‘Wenn du mich siehst, dann wein’ translating to ‘If you see me, weep’.

As I write this, large areas of the arctic are on fire.

In Siberia, a new trade is booming in selling the bones of woolly mammoths as they are being revealed by the thawing permafrost.

Within this context, Desert, now republished by Active Distribution, is looking worryingly prophetic.

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

Desert has become something of an online sensation since publication by an anonymous author in 2011. It starts from the quite plausible premise that we will not be able to limit climate change in any meaningful sense; that runaway heating is inevitable, that large sections of the globe will become uninhabitable. As this happens, human populations will shrink rapidly due to wars, malnutrition and the vulnerability to disease that these bring. It is not an optimistic view of the future. Humanity will not be able to pull itself together to do anything about it. Unsurprisingly, it has developed a cult following amongst Nihilists and anarcho-individualists.

As well as some worrying predictions about the future of the climate, Desert also has some home-truths for the anarchist movement, our capacity and what we can hope to achieve. In this it calls out the Anarchist Federation, and other groups, for proposing that an anarchist revolution will be complete and worldwide; suggesting this is unrealistic and that ultimately, we’re selling a fantasy not unlike the priests and politicians.

There are some valuable points to consider, and certainly there is some truth in this, however I feel this is a slight misreading of our message.

We do not believe there will be an ‘anarchist revolution’, we believe revolutions are spontaneous events and that ultimately all we can do is try to push them in a more libertarian and communist direction. We must try to build new structures which are effective against the inevitable counter revolution and which mitigates against the prospect of a single group seizing power again over the working class. What (I think) we meant, was not that we would ever have enough anarchists to take over the whole world at once, but that we will never be able to co-exist peacefully with capitalism. Ultimately, if capitalism still exists anywhere in the world it will always try to expand and regain control of our lives. Whether we will be successful in eradicating it remains to be seen.

The author also tries to put to bed the misconception that there will be a ‘singular anarchist future’, however this is not an assumption I was labouring under. In revolutionary Spain, a small part of a relatively small country, there was not one system of doing things. Some villages banned money, some kept it, whereas some issued work tokens. We have never claimed to have the perfect system; there is no set programme; there is no end goal. The beauty of anarchism is that it is constantly evolving, that is adapts to new localities and conditions.

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

While I feel these points need clarification, ultimately the message of Desert is one that needs to be heard. There is a naivety amongst the anarchist movement that if we can come up with the perfect organisational structures or blue-print for the future, the working class will arise. The fact is that we are at a low ebb and unfortunately the climate isn’t going to wait until we regain our strength. We must accept that the revolution is unlikely to come about from positive action on our own part, from some glorious moment, more likely it will be due to the collapse of states as they are no longer able to provide for their citizens. We need to accept this, and we need to start planning for it.

That’s not to say that imagining futures together is not valuable. Understanding together what a utopia might look like can help us to get there. These ideas can break the spell of capitalist realism and help people begin to think of new relations between each other and new relations to the rest of nature. This is where Desert brings an important message. Whilst talking of these utopias we must also be realistic about we can achieve in the here and now. We must not preach these utopias as if they are just around the corner or they will be easy to achieve. Anarchist ways of organising have a lot to offer but we as a movement are a long way from being able to build alternative power structures, from being able to provide for communities. This is where our true weaknesses lie: we are not the CNT in 1930s Spain. We do have the structures in place to be able to take over or defend our gains if a revolution happened tomorrow.

Somewhere along the line this sense of realism has been lost amid hopeful speeches aiming to inspire people to anarchist ways of thinking. In early 20th century Italy, Malatesta discussed with other anarchists how they would provide for the people after an uprising in the city- ‘We’ll feed ourselves from the warehouses’ was the reply. But how much food was actually in the warehouses? Malatesta checked and was surprised to find barely any. He realised the city could not survive without help from food brought in by railroad, the same railroad which would also bring reinforcements for the army if it was kept it open. He surmised: ‘we must face the cannons if we want the corn’. This is a useful story of realism meeting revolutionary exuberance. It will not be easy and Desert acknowledges that. We can achieve a lot, just look at anarchist disaster relief efforts across the globe, but we should also be aware we may not be the only force trying to consolidate ourselves as the capitalist order collapses.

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

Desert paints a future in which capitalist civilisation crumbles as it becomes unable to provide for its citizens in any meaningful way. Many will die in the global south (the author seems slightly blasé about this fact) but humans will expand north into the previously uninhabited zones. What will remain are pockets of societies, some more anarchist that others and some more successful than others. However, this is not the only way a society ravaged by global heating could evolve. Let me discuss two other possible dystopias.

First, as global warming accelerates the state realises the threat this presents and that it must step in to manage the crisis. The industrialised countries in the temperate north close their borders to keep out climate refuges and foster an increasing nationalism, an us vs them narrative over access to resources. The land purchased by US and European corporations in Africa is used to maintain our standard of living. How many disruptions to supply will the US tolerate before it sends in its army to subdue the locals and manage food production? In this dystopia, society continues in the temperate zones, albeit under strong state control and rationing of resources. Those outside these zones become client states, forced into production to service Europe and the US with food. In reality, this is simply an acceleration of the current dynamic between the industrialised nations and their former colonies.

Second, as climate breakdown becomes increasingly obvious with drought and famine in the less temperate zones, the potential rewards for technologies like direct air capture of CO2 become huge. States are deeply indebted trying to manage extreme weather events and the upgrading of infrastructure, meaning the development of these technologies is in corporate hands. Will Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos be kind to us when they have the power to save humanity, or will they extract as much as possible for their empires? Already they have international operations which flaunt local laws and are developing their own currencies to do this further. In this future the corporations are the ones who build alternative power structures outside the state. For those who can afford it, or who can sell their skills, the climate crisis will be managed. For everyone else, the future is less rosy.

---- ---- ---- ---- ----

In planning theory, when dealing with uncertain futures, one approach is to map out the possible scenarios and try to pick a strategy which works with each one. This is often termed ‘no regrets’ decision making. While the solution might not be optimal in any given scenario, it will allow you to survive whichever possible future turns out to be true. Essentially, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Desert has offered one possible scenario and I have given a further two here. What strategies can we develop which benefit us no matter which turns out to be true? I would like to suggest as a start that in each of these scenarios, being able to provide for ourselves would be incredibly beneficial. The less dependence we have on the state or corporations, the less likely they are to be able to enslave us further.

Unfortunately, taking back the land has proved somewhat tricky despite our best efforts, but perhaps this isn’t the only way we can view this problem. Providing for ourselves could mean engaging with the local council to build community-scale solar schemes. When the time comes we disconnect from the grid and have an energy system which we can manage ourselves. Community growing projects increase knowledge of farming practices, build community networks and show mutual aid in action. Group therapy sessions build our capacity for self-care and international networks grow our knowledge of how other communities have faced similar problems and won. Our unions offer an alternative structure which connects knowledge in different industries with regional-scale understanding of production and distribution systems.

Each of these projects would improve our chances if any of the possible future scenarios of state collapse, state domination or corporatism came true. These, and probably many more, are the ‘no regrets decisions’ we can be making to increase our chance of surviving and thriving in the future. Perhaps Desert’s greatest strength is making us realise the urgency of taking these steps and being realistic about where the movement is today.

Desert is a welcome addition to anarchist ideas about what the future may hold for us. There has been a debate in the climate movement for years about the best way to frame the problem to increase awareness and action. Do we give messages of hope about what the future could hold if we act now or visions of doom if we get it wrong? Ultimately I think both are necessary, people need to be aware of the risks if we don’t get this right and Desert injects a healthy dose of doom into the debate. Just don’t lose hope, another future is possible.

John Warwick is an Anarchist and Environmentalist based in the UK.

Desert, a warning written by an anonymous author, republished by Active Distribution ISBN 978 1 909798 72 4
Read Desert for free online at
The Anarchist Library

The End of Tolerance was written by Arun Kundnani twelve years ago – the book now seems to serve as some kind of eerie foreshadowing, or horrific prologue to where we are now.

The book traces racism in England back before the Empire, going as far back as the Victorian area, becoming more detailed as we come towards modern day, with the main focus being on immigration control under New Labour. He highlights how the concept of ‘whiteness’, and the idea of a racial hierarchy, has changed over time to suit the needs of the changing economic systems in place.

Later in the book, it focusses mainly on how Islamophobia has become more prevalent in recent years, and what has helped lead up to that fact. Kundnani specifically focuses on the idea that ‘British’ values and ‘Muslim’ values are somehow incompatible. Of course, reviewing this book in 2019, it’s scary to think how much this idea has permeated into mainstream media, and it is often this rhetoric that is used by the far right. The author points just how ill-defined and nonsensical these terms are, and how ideas of freedom and democracy that politicians like to use when discussing these supposed British values, are contrary to our colonial and racist past, and present.

Kundnani’s knowledge of the laws, legal system and statistics is beyond impressive and I was amazed by the detail he was able to go into. I think this element of the book helps make it so compelling – it’s the type of book I’d give to someone who may have more liberal ideas or hasn’t really considered just how institutionalised racism is. The policies put in place, especially under New Labour, and the effect they have had, can’t be considered anything but racist. Of course, these have continued, and worsened by the coalition government and the Conservative Party – with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, declaring the ‘hostile environment’.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how Kundnani explains how through the idea of multiculturism it was possible for politicians to keep race policy and immigration policy as two separate things. He asserts that this was often used as a form of control in an attempt to depoliticise Asian and black youths who had rose up in anger at their conditions, and with this came the purposeful separating of different ethnic groups in an attempt to fragment a broad reaching political movement. Of course, we see how this has now been turned into the idea of a ‘refusal’ to integrate within wider society. Reading the book, I was made aware just how much government action and policy has shaped racism in modern Britain, and how this is was often done intentionally in order to keep state control.

Kundnani focuses specifically on immigration control and how this is often arbitrary and meaningless. These controls are far further reaching than just the visa process, and they have gradually become a part of the benefits system, housing and education. He details the role of globalisation, contrasting the movement of people to the movement of capital and how this has meant that the old colonial, more developed countries have been able to amass large amounts of wealth, often at the expense of the global south.

I learnt lots of interesting, and horrible facts, for example:

Roughly two-thirds of all asylum seeker claims are refused.

Out of 380 decisions made on applications by Iraqis in the first quarter of 2008, 280 were refusals.

The percentage of asylum applicants refused at initial decision reached its highest point at 88% in 2004.

As Kundnani points out, this approach to people who are trying to seek escape from persecution, leads to more trafficking, and people being forced to put themselves, and possibly their families, in unsafe conditions or work – which the government then uses as a reason to condemn people.

Aspects of this book feel slightly outdated, it is now over a decade old, which is a lot in political terms. However, I do think this is a great background text to understanding the government’s role, with a particular focus on New Labour, in shaping race relations in Britain. I learnt a hell of a lot from this book, and it is interesting (and infuriating) to see how these ideas and laws, continue to have impact in the present day. ■

Northern Jam is an Anarchist and Feminist from reet up North. Passionate about cross stitching, reading and the downfall of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

The End of Tolerance. Published September 2007 by Pluto Press . Written by Arun Kundnani

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One side is Nazis
And we’re still having this debate?
One side is Nazis
And it’s Antifa you hate?
One side is Nazis
They ain’t here to play it cool.
One side is Nazis
Blowing dog-whistles and playing the fool.

One side is Nazis
And it is violence they preach.
One side is Nazis
It ain’t nothing to do with freedom of speech.
One side is Nazis
They’re looking to end some lives.
One side is Nazis
It’s happened countless times.

One side is Nazis
No matter how they change their name.
One side is Nazis
No matter how they hide their game.
One side is Nazis
And if they think you pose a risk -
One side is Nazis
Your name will be at the top of their list.

One side is Nazis
Their views are open and clear.
One side is Nazis
Let them talk, see what you hear.
One side is Nazis
And we’re still having this debate?
One. Side. Is. Nazis.
And it’s still Antifa you hate?■

Karl Howarth is an Anarchist, writer and customer service veteran based in South East London. Follow him on Instagram for images of his cat (and occasionally a poem) by clicking here.
Image courtesy of Rhi Bowen, whose Instagram can be found here.

Coincidentally, I started reading this book two days before an MEP from Scotland called Churchill a 'white supremacist mass murder' on twitter - a statement I already agreed with from what I knew of him. I didn't start this book completely uninformed, I certainly didn't think much of Churchill beforehand, knowing what I did about his opinions on India (amongst other places and people), and I had heard the odd quote from Amery in passing, however, reading Madhusree Mukerjee's book was eye-opening and the extent of which the Bengali famine could have been avoided, is both heart breaking and infuriating. Even more so within the context of the British cultural show of admiration for a man who deserves nothing but condemnation for being a racist, imperialist piece of scum.

It is a tough a read. It took me over a month, stopping and starting when it got too heavy and the statistics tired me down. I guess that is the nature of a book like this. The book is filled with sources and footnotes; however, I have to be honest and say I have not checked these sources so can't confirm their reliability. However, the fact that are so many provided, from so many different sources, certainly seems a good thing; maybe one day I will get around to looking at the primary sources. The author, who is Indian herself, also talks to survivors of the famine and relatives, which adds a more personal touch to a very dense book.

The books main focus is on the Bengali famine of 1943, where according to most sources, roughly 3 million people died. Mukerjee analyses the British response regarding food shortages at the time - many of the issues leading to which were caused by prior British policies and also the general disdain members of the British government felt for South Asians which lead to a lack of action. However, the book also looks at this within the wider context of World War Two and at British policy in India on a broader scale, including the potential invasion of Japanese ships, British efforts to divide religious persons to try to combat opposition to colonial rule and India’s huge contributions to the war effort.

Between Churchill and his aide, Cherwell, a eugenics fan and supremacist himself, it is clear that their neglect of this issue was not based on either ignorance nor necessity (whatever that actually means…but that’s a whole other blog post) but their racist, colonial attitudes and their personal hatred towards Indian people, particularly Hindus. This tragedy could have been prevented at numerous times by the British government but it was allowed to take place due to ideological reasoning, convenience and a desire to discredit, and weaken those who opposed British rule. Of course, this attitude wasn’t exclusive to India, it is part of Churchill’s wider attitude towards colonised peoples, the working-class and anyone who was non-white.

As I say, this is a tough read and it isn't a pleasant read either. However, in my opinion this is an important book about a subject that is often overlooked or defended as a necessary tragedy. I would recommend this book to anyone who is British or has an interest in learning more about the horrors of British imperialism; this book is about a man who is often idolised by politicians and media and a lot of discourse is left behind in favour of the old troupe 'he fought the Nazi's so he must be great'. I can’t imagine anyone reading this review is a fan of Churchill anyway, but for a more in-depth analysis of his role in the famine of 1943 this is book is great addition. ■

NorthernJam is an Anarchist and Feminist from reet up North. Passionate about cross stitching, reading and the downfall of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Churchill's Secret War. Published by Tranquebar Press 2010 . Written by Madhusree Mukerjee.

I've got a fire in my belly,
It what makes me scribe,
It's looking for justice and fair play,
It's what keeps me alive,
It's like a burger in a bun,
Topped with a scoville relish,
This fire in my belly,
Is hard to extinguish.

I wear my heart on my sleeve,
My emotions are raw,
When I hear of injustice,
It's like throwing on petrol,
This feeling I get,
Seeps from every pore,
This passion I feel,
Is hard to ignore.

When I hear of acts of racism,
I burn up inside,
To me we are all equal,
A feeling I can't hide,
I've got a fire in my belly,
That rages hard and strong,
It's mission is to ensure,
That right overcomes wrong.

Some people have money,
Some people have not,
But the gap is increasing,
By tyrants and what they plot,
We've got poverty stricken children,
With a stunted education,
Who'll have to work hard all their lives,
To make the best of their situation.

Politicians with no morals,
Who people seem to trust,
Send families to food banks,
Which turns my stomach in disgust,
These people line their own pockets,
Who should hold their heads in shame,
They thrive on people's suffering,
We all know their game.

Now we all have a fire,
We all have a belly,
We all have an opportunity,
To end this inequality,
We now live in an era,
Like no era in the past,
To make a difference to human lives,
A difference that will last. ■

Swansea based Punk Poet The Uptown Portrayer was established in 2017, and has been gigging hard ever since at Ska and Punk Festivals and supporting benefit gigs.
You can find him on Facebook.

Renowned for delivering an honest brand of poetry that resonates, and tackling subjects such as inequality, social issues and racism head on. The Uptown Portrayer Punk Poet also highlights the struggles of music venues, and displays a passion for live music, whilst also showing a compassionate side with originals based around friendships and compassion for others. Having recently recorded a verse from the poem “No Robot” with South Wales punk band Tenplusone on their latest album.

Image © m.mphoto

Shite. Is there any other word for it? Pishing it doon, get soaked by some prick in a shitey BMW and a midlife crisis and within pitting distance of the open air pish house they call a bus shelter. My intended destination.

Lucky me. Can’t drive so here I am. The dirty polythene shelter, despite the obvious smell of ammonia, is keeping me somewhat dry at least. Might as well check the timetable I guess. Not that I actually believe its accurate. Nah, fuck that. I’m just trying to keep warm. Mah room has been bloody freezing the last fortnight, radiator is probably fucked. And this is hardly doing me any good.

Let’s see. Racists scrawl, fitba stickers and oh advice suggesting that I should be getting a taxi, and there it is the times. Shouldnae have bothered. Just shite. That taxi shite was pissing me off. Like anyone can actually afford a taxi round here, can barely get the bloody bus. Honestly fuckin…

I turnt about. Some auld boy came up to the shelter and brought me back to the bus shelter. He asked me the time before lighting up. I wish I had mah earphones. The auld guy seems an alright sort but I can’t be arsed dealing with anybody. Besides what happens if it transpires he’s a cunt. Then Ah might git stuck with said cunt. Aye, misanthropy is the wey to go.

Fuck me. It’s too cold. Freezing mah bollocks off. Maybe it’ll snow soon and I’ll get off work for a bit. Speculative thinking but a boy can dream. Some dream too, getting away from work for a few day.

There. The 101 is actually about here. I heard they were closing the depot. I’m lucky to even be on a bus these days. There’s bugger all here theses days but then again there’s a co-op opening soon, better watch out we’ll be at risk of gentrification soon. Maybe I’ll leave.

And here we are. The doors struggle open and I do my best to ignore the driver while scanning mah ticket. I get my way to a seat, wading my way through the water which has collected in the aisle of the bus and is sloshing about. Maybe they’ve got a leak, wouldn’t surprise me. They’re ancient things, everybody is fucked if we crash. Thankfully I got myself a seat by myself. Some cunt once sat on m on a bus, unintentional but still. They could’ve apologies or maybe even acknowledged it. I don’t know. How the fuck does that bother me?

I don’t even mind being one busses most of the time but Christ when they’re bad, they’re bad. Between school weans, screaming weans in prams, people shouting on the phone. It’s all shite. I once saw a guy get on a bus just to do a pish and then got off immediately. Clearly he forgot that bus shelters were just as good.

I’m just gonna switch off. At least its pretty quiet. Maybe I’ll catch up on the backlog of sleep that I’ve been meaning too. Actually fuck that. Somebody will probably take my spleen. Can you actually harvest spleens? I don’t know. Christ mah heid is morbid.

No like my surroundings help. It’s grim. Maybe I’ll actually leave some day. Who hasnae said that though? And here we are thousands of souls who are dammed to stay here. Is it actually that bad though? Or am I just blinkered? Guess you can never see the full picture when you’re so close. Maybe I’ll piss off to some island.

I miss the sea. There’s just something about it. For some folk it constrains them, boxes them in but I always think it makes the world much bigger. I miss the days of being at the seaside as a wean. Getting soaked cause you couldn’t resist jumping in the sea and then getting a pokey hat, normally after terrorising your folks. Then you get older and realise how grim these seaside town actually are. Imagining yourself actually living there…

A girl just got on the bus. Well she tried. Forgot her student card and that’s her out on her arse. Gave the driver a right earful. The driver could have a bit of actually possessed an ounce of empathy but I don’t envy him. He’s got a shite job. Has shite bosses. Shite pay. And then has to put up with the rest of the shite. Mind you some bastarding bus driving prick closed thi door oan mi ance, utter prick. Ach fuck it.

Nearly here. Get aff an get oan. Nae else to be done. Ah start to make mah preparations to get aff the bus, alit the bus. At least that’s what some folk say. Shite. Who actual has tae say that? Pricks. Ah ring the bell and thi bus trundles tae a stop. That’s mi. Negotiate mah wey doon tae thi front. Hope tae fuck thi bastard actual stops the bus. Thay’ve goat form.

Wi trundle tae a stop. Ah thank the driver, mair oot ae habit than actual sinceritie. Ah step aff an that’s mi… ■

Lodaidh MacUilleim is a student from Scotland currently living in Glasgow.
He occasionally writes things as well as having been in a number of bands.


A Poem by The Uptown Portrayer

They advertise in the papers,
They advertise on TV,
They target vulnerable people,
Aged about 16,
All from impoverished backgrounds,
Show unity,
Do not sign the dotted line,
Of the military.

Don't be a government puppet,
See things as they are,
Wars are manufactured,
by people who do not care,
Governments aren't effective,
At creating industry,
So they establish an alternative,
Based on hate and greed.

Young cadets are trained to think,
Your country need you,
To play in all their games,
Something I can't construe,
In a false environment,
Get yourself a trade,
Unfortunately in civilian life,
Little chance I am afraid .

You say you don't trust governments,
Nor trust them on war,
These days there a distraction,
Of inadequacies I'm sure,
With unemployment and homelessness,
The highest that has been seen,
Surely these are the priorities,
The thinking is obscene.

Creating terror in our country,
Arms trading makes you sick,
Where lives mean nothing,
And more security risks,
Everybody stand tall,
Act with integrity,
Do not sign the dotted line,
Of the military. ■

Swansea based Punk Poet The Uptown Portrayer was established in 2017, and has been gigging hard ever since at Ska and Punk Festivals and supporting benefit gigs.
You can find him on Facebook

Renouned for delivering an honest brand of poetry that resonates, and tackling subjects such as inequality, social issues and racism head on. The Uptown Portrayer Punk Poet also highlights the struggles of music venues, and displays a passion for live music, whilst also showing a compassionate side with originals based around friendships and compassion for others. Having recently recorded a verse from the poem "No Robot" with South Wales punk band Tenplusone on their latest album.

A Poem by Victoria Pearson

They said the riots were the start, but they were wrong.

It started with the whispers. A susurrus of discontent, at the school gates, in the allotments, in the streets.

They met in libraries and parks, made plans to protect the vulnerable, and keep every belly fed. They planted seeds of hope and potatoes of defiance.

No longer supported by the system, they supported each other. They locked together like a shield wall, so when the time came to strike, they were unbreakable.

The cry rang through the streets; "No Gods,  No Masters, We Aren't Sheep To Be Led"

They said the riots were the start, but they were wrong.

It started with solidarity. ■

Victoria Pearson lives behind a keyboard somewhere in darkest Toryshire with her husband, her four children, and her dog. She writes very strange stories.
You can read them on her website or watch her talking complete nonsense in real time on Twitter.