Reviews

by Roger Fletcher

Manifesto Press is a new venture that aims to publish working class history, socialist theory and the politics of class struggle. It is republican and anti-imperialist; secular and feminist; anti-fascist and anti-racist; committed to working class political power, popular sovereignty and progressive culture.

It is fitting that one of the inaugural books from a new Press should be a detailed look at a radically different type of educational philosophy and practice. At the opposite end of the Gulf Stream to Britain, Cuba’s commitment to education at all levels is now beginning to show its demonstrably magnificent results.

Professor Theo MacDonald has a thorough and deep understanding of differences between the Cuban and Anglo-Saxon education systems, having lived and worked within both. Readers may recall some of his earlier works, such as Schooling the Revolution, as well as his critiques of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.

Brought right up to date with statistics, and with recent insights into the often-patchy relationship with the Soviet Union, MacDonald gives us a critical and thoughtful entree to aspects of capitalist education — and society — that we sometimes accept unthinkingly. A common thread throughout Cuban life is the value of co-operation, at least as much as the competition that we are stridently assured is the only source of human progress within capitalism.

Comparisons are not ‘odious’ as I was taught at school, but odorous, in that if the fair-minded among us make the conclusions that MacDonald guides us towards, then the ‘constructive engagement’ of which our government speaks could lead to some utterly brilliant improvements in our own educational and social life.