The Things Our Hands Once Stood For - by Martin Hayes
£6 (plus £1.50 p&p). ISBN 978-1-907464-32-4.
Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published an oustanding new collection of poetry by Martin Hayes.
Martin Hayes is the only British poet who writes consistently and seriously about work, and about the insanity of a society where employees are seen as mere ‘hands’ whose sole role is to make money for the employer.
Alan Dent, a publisher and poet himself, who writes an illuminating introduction, says, “Hayes speaks for those whose lives are supposed to be not worth speaking about. He is intent on revealing the significance of the lives of ordinary people in the workplace. When current employment relations are consigned to the dustbin of history, and are viewed as we now view the feudal relations between lord and vassal, will people wonder why so little was written about it?"
Martin’s poems are direct and simple, and full of black humour. Like the grainy black and white images that illustrate them so well, they expose and express the simple, terrible truth – that the human relation on which our society is based, that between employer and employee, is morally indefensible. The clear message of his poetry is that those who do the work should own, control, and benefit fully from it. They should, in the last words of the last poem, ‘start the revolution that will change everything’, and show that ‘all of our fingertips combined/might just be the fingertips/ that keep us and this Universe/ stitched together’.
The Mouse and the Milk – by Mike Quille, with illustrations by John Gordon
£8.00 (plus £1.50 p&p). ISBN978-1-907464-29-4
Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new version of a classic folk-tale from Sardinia, The Mouse and the Milk.
The story was written down in 1931 by Antonio Gramsci, the Marxist philosopher and political activist, in a letter to his children. The letter was smuggled out of one of Mussolini’s prisons, where Gramsci had been imprisoned ‘to stop his brain from functioning’. (In fact, as we know, his brain functioned all the more powerfully!) The story was later re-told by John Berger.
Mike Quille said, “Folk-tales are, by their very nature, metaphorical. They can be re-shaped for a contemporary audience and show the children of today how we can we make the world a better place by working collectively and respecting the environment.
“The Mouse and the Milk is a simple but very profound story. In just a few pages it expresses how practising natural human generosity and caring for the world around us leads not only to material abundance but a kinder, more just and peaceful society. At a time of growing child poverty and threats to the environment, this message could not be more relevant.”
State Monopoly Capitalism by Gretchen Binus, Beate Landefeld and Andreas Wehr, with an Introduction by Jonathan White
£4.95 (plus £1.50 p&p). ISBN 978-1-907464-27-0
The 2007/8 worldwide banking collapse exposed – to a new generation – the cyclical nature of modern capitalism’s enduring crisis. With the collapse in bank confidence came the crisis of confidence in modern capitalism itself, and thus a resurgence of interest in Marxism.
But capitalism has moved on since Marx developed his economic analysis in Capital. And, although the labour theory of value may be fairly well understood within Britain’s labour movement, what is not generally grasped is the extent to which capitalism has become monopolised and dominated by the financial sector, and the degree to which the state and the monopolies are intertwined in order to maintain the system.
In every advanced capitalist economy it was the state that came to the rescue in the 2007/8 crisis, reinforcing the basis of the theoretical approach of state monopoly capitalism (SMC), which was the foundation of communist, and some socialist, critiques of capitalism, before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
This monograph by Gretchen Binus, Beate Landefeld and Andreas Wehr, originally published in German, revisits the discussions on SMC theory in Germany, France, and the Soviet Union, demonstrating their contemporary relevance. An introduction by Jonathan White considers how a better understanding of state monopoly capitalism would assist those seeking the transformation of Britain in a socialist direction.
On Fighting On - An Anthology of Poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017
£5 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-24-9
Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new anthology of poems from the Bread and Roses Poetry Award 2017, sponsored by Unite.
The purpose of the new Award is to encourage poets to focus on themes which are meaningful to working class people and communities and to encourage those communities to engage more with poetry. Entrants were given the opportunity to deal broadly with any aspect of working class life and culture and show commitment to the common people, the common good and the common music of poetry.
Mike Quille, the Editor of the anthology, said, “We wanted to encourage Unite members and working people more widely to engage with poetry and the arts generally. And encourage the mainstream poetry world to lift its eyes beyond the narrow poetry ‘bubble’ and be more attentive to the labour movement. The poems in this collection reflect a broad range of themes and moods. They show very clearly the collective strength of writing by working people.”
The Award was kindly supported by Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union. Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, said, “We sponsored the first Bread and Roses Poetry Award because we believe that our members, and working people generally, have an equal right to join in and enjoy all the arts, and other cultural activities. We believe we should be able to afford them, get to them, and enjoy them, and that art should seek to engage with all sections of the community. Working-class people face a continual cultural struggle to defend our cultural commons, to keep cultural activities open to the many, not the few.”