The Councils of Action 1920 and the British Labour Movement’s Defence of Soviet Russia - John Foster
£4 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-28-7
When, close to a century ago, the labour movement in Britain prepared to take industrial action in defence of the young Soviet Union, the ruling class was terrified.
On 7 August 1920 the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress and the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party jointly convened a Council of Action with the aim of preventing the British government from declaring war on Soviet Russia or of supplying troops or munitions to its enemies. Over 300 local Councils of Action were subsequently called into being to provide the organisational base for a general strike.
Two days later the government abandoned its plans and instead backed Soviet proposals for a peace treaty with the principal aggressor, Poland. This was the first occasion on which the leadership of the British Labour movement had formally countenanced industrial action to bring pressure to bear on a ‘constitutional’ government. Its success in doing so provided both precedent and rationale for the 1926 General Strike.
John Foster examines the Councils of Action against the background of a rising militancy and in the political context of a government divided over how to restore Britain’s power, the ideological challenges to right-wing Labour arising from the Irish national movement and Soviet power and the formation of the Communist Party.
The Impact of the Russian Revolution on Britain - Robin Page Arnot
£8 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN 978-1-907464-30-0
First published for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution, this book documents the immediate and lasting effects on Britain of the events in Russia in 1917. Robin Page Arnot describes the varying reactions of Britain’s press, its established political parties and its Labour movement, from the February Revolution all the way through to the Wars of Intervention.
He reveals just how much the British ruling class sought to destroy the world’s first workers’ state, and the struggles by Britain’s working class to prevent that.
On the occasion of the Centenary of the October Revolution, Manifesto Press is proud to make this work of scholarship, long out of print, available for a new generation of readers and students of history.
Muses and Bruises - Poems by Fran Lock, Collages by Steev Burgess
£8 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN9781907464256.
Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new collection of poetry by Fran Lock. The poems are accompanied by collages by Steev Burgess.
Fran lock is an activist, writer and illustrator, and one of the finest political poets around. Like John Clare, Lock evokes the troubling, often agonising effects of capitalist society on personal and social identity.
Her feminist and socialist poetry weaves psychological insight and social awareness into themes of poverty, mental health problems, sexual abuse, domestic violence and political struggle. Vivid, lavish and punchy, it combines a deep sense of anger and injustice with vulnerable empathy and compassion.
The poems in this collection revel in richness and in strangeness. They are about the unlikely places where working class women find beauty and meaning, and the unlikely materials from which they are composed.
The fragmented yet coherent collages of Steev Burgess complement and enhance those meanings perfectly. The images dance with the poems, singing together about muses and bruises, fantasy and reality – grind and grime with a lick of glitter.
Bring the Rising Home! Poems by Mike Jenkins, with paintings by Gustavius Payne
£9 (plus £1.50 p&p) ISBN978-1-907464-22-5.
Culture Matters, an imprint of Manifesto Press, has published a new collection of poetry by the Welsh socialist poet Mike Jenkins. The poems are accompanied by full colour paintings by Gustavius Payne.
In May 1831, miners and others took to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, protesting against wage cuts and unemployment generally. The protest spread and soon the whole area was in rebellion – the red flag was flown as a symbol of workers' revolt for the first time. The social and economic conditions which sparked the Merthyr Rising are never far from Mike Jenkins’s poetic imagination, but there are also poems here about drunks, jailbirds, footballers, a mining disaster, and Northern Ireland.
Weaving through both poems and images are themes of individual isolation and alienation, and the urgent need for collective action to change the conditions of working people. Mike Jenkins’s vivid, lyrical poems are accompanied by full colour paintings by the Welsh socialist painter Gustavius Payne, whose bold, striking, and deeply sympathetic paintings complement the poems perfectly.
The message is clear: isolated, people are powerless, but together they are strong. They need to organise into trade unions, join a socialist party and challenge the ruling class. Here is a poetic and painterly union of two socialist Welsh artists who, in their own brilliant, artistic way, are bringing the Rising home.