Diary of a Nobody

The next article after this diary will bring up 400 articles on this website. I started this website in 2008 to post some of my essays from my degree at Birkbeck university. Still not sure how to celebrate. Either get drunk or write an article.

The Christopher Hill Conference is only a week away. One of many talking points will be Michael Sturza’s new book, The London Revolution 1640-1643: Class Struggles in 17th Century England[1]. Recently Sturza took to the pages of Academia.EU to attack, albeit mildly, my review of his book and to launch a far more nasty attack on Chris Thompson[2]. I will write a longer reply to Sturza in due course. I do not know Sturza personally, so he was within his right to attack my review in the public domain. Knowing what was “misleading” about the review would be nice. Most important is Sturza’s incapacity to understand why Hill could not tackle and oppose the onslaught of the Revisionists on anything that smacked Marxism.

The answer is to be found, not as Sturza suggests, because Hill “was unable to effectively defend the Marxist viewpoint due to the flaw in his analysis”. This is just not accurate. Firstly to tackle the Revisionists, you would have to expose their political outlook, something Hill could or would not do.

According to Norah Carlin, Hill and Manning must take some blame for the rise of revisionism. On the surface, it would seem that Carlin had a contradictory attitude towards Hill and Manning, which is not the case. Carlin praises Hill and Manning for their work on the English bourgeois revolution and says that any new historiography should incorporate much of their best writings.

However, their contribution does leave much to be desired when taking on the revisionists’ attack on Marxist historiography.  The SWP saw these two as bulwarks against the revisionist onslaught. At best, this was a lousy piece of judgement. At worse, they sacrificed a struggle against revisionism over a closer relationship with these two historians who were in one way or another closely tied to the apron strings of the Communist Party.

If you examine Hill’s role, to his credit, he did, albeit to a lesser extent, play a role in the “storm over the Gentry” debate. His defence of Tawney is still worth reading today. In many senses, this was a missed opportunity to do some severe damage to the anti-Marxists. The fact that Roper could walk away from this debate mostly unscathed merely emboldened further hostile attacks on Marxist historiography.

Gifted as a historian as Hill was, he did not understand the need for a consistent struggle against revisionism. This stems not from his understanding of history but his complete lack of Marxist political consciousness. When the SWP did try to prompt Hill into a more active role in the struggle, the results were not good. In an interview with John Rees and Lee Humber, this question was asked, How do you see the development of the debate around the English Revolution over recent years? Would you agree that the revisionists have taken some ground?

Hill’s answer was, “they have made a lot of useful points, but the younger generation of historians is now attacking their more extreme views. Although the revisionists had all sorts of useful ideas, they had a narrow political approach in that they tried to find the causes of the English Revolution solely in the years 1639–41. This assumes what you are setting out to prove. If you look just at those years, it’s a matter of political intrigue, not long-term causes. I think people are reacting against that now. The better of the revisionists are themselves switching around a bit. John Morrill, for instance, who thought everything depended on the county community and localism, is now taking a much broader point of view. And Conrad Russell has become aware that long-term factors must be considered – he doesn’t like it. Still, he recognises that religion has some long-term effects on what happened in 1640, a rather elementary point, but he left religion out altogether in the early days. Now he’s bought it in. He still leaves out the cultural breakdown in the society of that period, but he is moving a bit. I think a consensus will arise, and there will be another explosion in 20 years. These debates occur regularly –since 1640, people have been arguing about what it was all about”.

Some interesting new releases caught my eye this week.

Jonathan Healey’s new book The Blazing World has just been released and has received extensive reviews in the bourgeois media.

Lucy Hutchinson and the English Revolution was published in 2022. Having just been able to borrow a copy from the London Library, I will look to review it later.

I am currently working on a review of the excellent book by Vasily Grossman, The Immortal people.

Penguin’s republication of Eric Williams’s 1944 book Capitalism and Slavery is welcome. Another possible review in 2023.

[1] See my review-https://keith-perspective.blogspot.com/2022/09/the-london-revolution-1640-1643-class.html

[2] See last two articles on this website.

Diary of a Nobody 5

I am currently working on a review of Christopher Hill’s The World Turned Upside Down. Although the conference to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the book has been moved to February, it still gives me some more time to work on this review and other work by Hill.

The new Bob Dylan book just arrived called The Philosophy of Modern Song. Having just glanced inside, it looks stunning with Dylan’s keen analytical insight into the modern song. I will review it for my website.

While there is a backlog of books I need to review, I will have to concentrate on some articles on the latest developments at Royal Mail. Management is hell-bent on destroying the pay conditions of thousands of postal workers and turning the company into an Amazon-style business with all that entails for the workforce, i.e. job cuts and redundancies. With Thirty thousand postal workers having already applied for early retirement, with more on the way, the CWU bureaucracy seems hell-bent on some shabby deal rather than mobilise postal workers against these attacks. Time for some independent rank-and-file committees to be established.

Early next year, I need to start some work on Stuart Hall. His Selected Writings on Marxism were published in 2021, and work on him is long overdue. When I did the first year of a pre-masters degree at Birkbeck, I researched him and his sidekick Raphael Samuel. Returning to the Bishopsgate Institute, where the Samuel archive is held, is a must.

Intend to do a short review of Show Me The Bodies, Peter Apps’ excellent-looking book on the corporate murder of 72 people in the Grenfell fire.

I am near the end of Blake Bailey’s biography of Phillip Roth. It is a superb read, and at over 900 pages long, it feels like I have lived with Roth all my life. Not sure I will review quite yet, and maybe do a bit more reading.

Given that most of the advertisements for my website go through Twitter, thanks to the megalomaniac Adolf Musk, I will have to look elsewhere to publicise the website and blog.


On Monday, 21 November 2022, Elliot Vernon will talk on “The Wall and Glory of Jerusalem”: The message of sermons preached before the Lord Mayor and the City of London in the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649-1660. Part of Britain in Revolution series from Oxford University.

Christopher Hill and the English Revolution: 50 years after TWTUD- Sat, 4 February 2023, 09:30 – 17:00 GMT- Institute of Historical Research (IHR), School of Advanced Study Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU

Diary of a Nobody 4

I went to two events last week. The first was Vigdis Hjorth discussing her new book, Is Mother Dead, at the London Review of Books shop. Since I have read only one book by this prolific Norwegian writer, I will not comment too much except to write that I am working on a review of her excellent book, Long Live the Post Horn.

The second event was held at the Institute of Historical Research. The meeting was held to announce the soon-to-be publication of the Writings of Oliver Cromwell. It was disappointing that most academic communities ignored such an important event. The conference itself was put in a grubby room with no sign on the door, and more importantly, no wine was on show. If Oxford University Press is reading this, a review copy would not go a miss or at least produce a paperback copy that you do not have to sell an organ to afford. John Morrill leader of the team that carried out the new collection has a new biography of Oliver Cromwell coming out in 2023. By all accounts it will be a new revisionist assessment of the leader of the English revolution.

Monday of this week, I listened to an excellent lecture by John Rees- The Fiery Spirits and the coming of the English Revolution. Convened by the beautiful Sophie Aldred. It is part of the Britain in Revolution series held online at the University of Oxford. John’s book on the same subject will be released by Verso next year.

According to his university web page, “John Rees is researching the republicans and regicides of the Long Parliament, 1640-1650, in preparation for a second major book on the English Revolution. This will develop the argument of The Leveller Revolution (Verso, 2016) that the proclamation of the Republic and the execution of Charles I resulted from a political bloc fashioned by the radical Independents and the Leveller movement. The long parliament’s so-called ‘fiery spirits’ often had personal and family histories opposing the Stuart monarchy. Examining these will give us an insight into the causes of the English Revolution. The study will focus on the careers of four of the most prominent fiery spirits, the MPs Henry Marten, William Strode, Peter Wentworth, and Alexander Rigby.”

Anyone who follows My website will see that a new article on the current postal strike has just been published. It can be read at https://atrumpetofsedition.org/ or can be seen at https://www.royalmailchat.co.uk/home.php

A recent visit to my favourite bookshop in London, Judd Books, yielded some new books that I might or might not read. Witness to the German Revolution-Victor Serge. Doing History from the Bottom Up-Staughton Lynd. Miles-by Miles Davis. The Philosophy of Modern Song Hardcover – 1 Nov. 2022by Bob Dylan. I hope to review this book when it is released.

CT sent me an interesting book- Sergei Kondratiev’s book on the English Revolution (translated from Russian by Google). If anyone wants a pdf copy I will send it via email.

Diary of a Nobody-Part 3

 “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

― Gustave Flaubert

Firstly apologies for the late publication of my article, The Global Attack on Postal workers. I put it on the website Royalmailchat[1] , achieving 800-page hits with four comments. The current struggle has started to get vicious, with Royal Mail starting to push 10,000 redundancies, and this is just the start of their attempt to Amazonistion the business. One significant development came out of the CWU’s Thursday Facebook meeting. While it is common knowledge that Royal Mail has held secret talks with the Private Equity Firm VESA, which is one of the powers behind the throne and is pulling the strings of the current CEO, Simon Thompson. It is not common knowledge that Terry Pullinger, the current CWU DGSP, also met with representatives of VESA. What was the purpose of this meeting, and what was discussed should be made public?

There are a few meetings and lectures worth mentioning this week. On Monday at Bookmarks, The SWP bookshop -Book Launch -Claude McKay -The Making of a Black Bolshevik-17th October-6.30. On Tuesday at the London Review of Books Bookshop -Vigdis Hjorth & Shahidha Bari: Is Mother Dead-Vigdis Hjorth discusses her new novel, Is Mother Dead (Verso) with Shahidha Bari. 7 pm. Writings of Oliver Cromwell- Woburn Suite, G22/26, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 20 October 2022, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

A couple of things from correspondence received this week. F Mami is a regular contributor to my website. See his latest article[2]. Fouad is looking for paid work for his writings, so if any media people are reading this, let me know if you are interested. Contact me at the following email keith@atrumpetofsedition.org.

CT sent an email regarding the Christopher Hill conference. I think we are both outsiders to this event, and it would be good if we both did articles on the conference from differing perspectives. I am reviewing the book A World Turn Upside Down before the meeting. It would be nice if Verso of Penguinb did an anniversary issue, but I will not hold my breath. My next review for my website will be David Caute’s The Red List.

A couple of important articles were published on wsws.org. The People Immortal: Soviet writer Vasily Grossman’s first novel about World War II by Clara Weiss[3] and Eugene V. Debs and the struggle of railroaders-by Tom Mackaman[4]

Again a few new books were purchased this week. The People Immortal-Vasily Grossman. A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto Hardcover – 12 May 2022-by China Miéville

[1] https://www.royalmailchat.co.uk/home.php

[2] http://keith-perspective.blogspot.com/2022/10/reynolds-nicholas-2022-need-to-know.html

[3] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/10/14/auih-o14.html

[4] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/10/10/debs-o10.html

Diary of a Nobody Part 2

A long time ago, back in the day when I was more radical than I am now, a very important person high up in the political organisation I used to be in called Julie gave me one of the best pieces of advice: concentrate well on one book at a time. I had a habit of moving on to one book while finishing another, and I still have this bad habit.

As the great Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky once said, “It is better to read one book and read it well; it is better to master a little bit at a time and master it thoroughly. Only in this way will your powers of mental comprehension extend themselves naturally. Thought will gradually gain confidence in itself and grow more productive. With these preliminaries in mind, it will not be difficult to rationally allot your time. Then, the transition from one pursuit to another will be to a certain extent pleasurable.”[1]

I raise this issue because I am currently reading two books, although one is read inside the house and the other is on my travels. Both books are biographies of the writer. Phillip Roth, so it counts as reading one book, albeit with nearly 1500 pages. My outdoor read is Ira Nadel- Philip Roth, A Counterlife. So far, I have only read the introduction, but it seems to be a character assassination of Roth.

 The whole introduction concentrates on why Roth was an angry man and how it dominated his worldview. Nadel’s attempted use of psychoanalysis to unlock the secrets of Roth’s behaviour has grown tiresome after only twenty pages. Nadel appears to join a long line of people who seem to object to Roth’s worldview. I believe that Roth wrote many extremely important books and understood the world, which is worth reading. As Roth said, “At any rate, all I can do with my story is tell it. And tell it. And tell it.”– My Life as a Man.

Although the Christopher Hill Conference in London is not until November, I decided to buy the latest copy of The World Turned Upside Down. Given that I read it long ago, it might be time to review it for my website. CT has kindly sent me two articles which are pertinent to the conference. Email me if you want copies. Ann Talbot wrote a superb obituary of Hill. It would be nice to expand on some of her points and publish them before the conference. I doubt if I sent it to the conference, they would accept an orthodox Marxist position on Hill, so I will not bother to send it.  [2]

Further book purchases include The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher, which I will review later. The books I intend to review are getting longer, so please chip in if anyone has a little free time. Three books from Verso are Will and Testament-A Novel-by Vigdis Hjorth-Translated by Charlotte Barslund, Is Mother Dead-by Vigdis Hjorth, and last I Fear My Pain Interests You-A Novel-by Stephanie LaCava

[1] (A letter to the Kiev comrades. From Pravda, May 31, 1923. Translated for this volume from Collected Works, Vol. 2 1, by Marilyn Vogt. From: Problems of Every Day Life by Leon Trotsky.)

[2] “These the times … this the man”: an appraisal of historian Christopher Hill

Ann Talbot-https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2003/03/hill-m25.html

Diary of a Nobody Part 1

This is the first post in what I hope will be an occasional meandering of thoughts and things happening in my world.

I have started reading Blake Bailey’s fantastic biography of Philip Roth again. I have admired Roth since I read his book I Married A Communist, and Bailey’s publisher has since burnt his book. I wrote about that.[1] The Roth bio is a superb piece, and it takes you away from your world and submerges you into Roth’s world. Sometime in the future, I will review it for my website alongside another book on Roth by Ira Nadel, which has a better cover. I wouldn’t say I like the cover of Bailey’s book, and it remains to be seen if Nadel’s book is better.

Much as I try to limit the number of books I buy every month, I am like a heroin addict who needs a fix. I go cold turkey every so often, and this is a list of recent buys, books, not heroin. 1. Three books by Hubert Selby JR-Requiem for a Dream, Last Exit to Brooklyn and The demon. 2. Ham on Rye-Charles Bukowski. 3. The Midnight Library, this one I succumbed to Sainsbury’s charms at £3.99. Portable Magic-Emma Smith-this one looks a beauty.4. On Nineteen Eighty Four-D J Taylor, the biography of Orwell’s masterpiece. 5. State Capitalism in Russia, Tony Cliff. A new edition which I will review at some point in the future. Vagina-Naomi Wolf- Speakes for itself. At my age don’t see much of it to comment on.6 Insolent Proceedings-edited by Peter Lake and Jason Peacey. I am working on a review of this book.7. Blood and Power- John Foot. With a Fascist elected as Italian President, this book could not be more topical.[2]8. Class, Women Race and Class-Angela Davis. 9 The Making of a Black Bolshevik – Claude McKay.

My friend Christopher Thompson who is my eyes and ears, alerted me to the Christopher Hill conference, which I have now advertised on this website. While I am not surprised that I was not invited to speak, it would have been nice to have an orthodox Marxist take on Hill.

My latest article should be published on Sunday called  Globalisation, Privatisation and the worldwide struggle of Postal Workers.