Beatrix Campbell – End of Equality

Reads like it was written in a rush, but that just adds to the sense of energy of this far reaching overview, which draws in everything from The Wire’s mythology of modern capitalism to the equal pay protocols in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles as part of its argument that increased market liberalisation has been built on the manipulation of women’s “traditional” (i.e. patriarchally prescribed) roles.

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As Campbell put it when I saw her giving a talk on this subject at the Scottish Greens conference in 2014, for all the rhetoric of freedom through (consumer) choice, “the labours of love and care are still gendered worldwide“. End of Equality goes significantly further than this in exploring the different modes of exploitation that are built into global capitalism, and as such its hurried, glancing overview is every bit as urgent as its tone and brevity would suggest

Independent Rhetoric #3: Disunited Kingdom, by Iain Macwhirter

Disunited-Kingdom

There are points to argue with in this short, compelling overview of the Scottish political landscape (the complaints about Rev. Stew aren’t as easily dismissed as Macwhirter would have it, and I am less sure than he is that Gordon Brown did more during the referendum than help some traditional Labour voters feel better about a choice they’d already made) but Macwhirter starts the book off by saying that he wrote it at least in part to remind himself of how it felt to be part of the campaign for Scottish independence, and in doing so he has done us a great service.

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William Gibson – The Peripheral

This is perhaps Gibson’s most purely entertaining (and dare I say it, novel) book since Neuromancer, possibly because it’s his most extravagant bit of science fiction yet: time travel rendered as a quaint hobby of the post-environmental collapse super-rich because the practice of sending information back there creates a new timeline which cannot impact the “original” present except through the nature of the information exchanged.

The alternatingly crisp and dirty surface texture of the Bridge/Blue Ant books is still in full evidence, which is all for the good since it’s these effects, so familiar and yet so strikingly alien from the “gone haptics” of the first chapter onward, that make Gibson such and essential modern novelist rather than a merely compelling one. The Peripheral‘s near future section is equal parts trailer park dust and drone filled skyline, its economy a perfect mess of drugs and 3d print goods, the creeping elements of the everyday made strange through their commonplace abundance.


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