My review of Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’…

Recently I’ve read and reviewed a short list of non-fiction, mostly politics books from Laurie Penny’s ‘Unspeakable Things’ (http://tinyurl.com/jl5trzc) to Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’ (http://tinyurl.com/jo8sekz) and George Monbiot’s ‘Captive State’ (http://tinyurl.com/zevxd7g) as well as a few others. This week I’m reviewing Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’, a book that is a little different than my other recent reads in that it not only explains how Capitalism got to the point where the author thinks that it will soon collapse, but he also details what might be to come and it is a fascinating read. Onwards to my review!

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In clear and accessible language, Mason talks us through the history of Capitalism and how this economic model, especially the current form of Neo-Liberalism, has driven our world economy to the brink of its own destruction. He explains that this system must inevitably end and that something else take its place. Mason challenges the assumption that Capitalism will always be our economic model, starting from the point that it has not always been so, and moving onward to the changes that are to come. The Postcapitalism model, as seen by Mason, is driven by the rise of information technology, the fall of Labour as the driving force behind value in the production of goods and the desire of information to be free. The internet and the ever increasing connectivity of the next generation is a key part of this coming change and something that, now in place, will be extremely hard to undo. Impossible, I would say.

As someone who has an interest in politics and in the future, I found this a fascinating read and I feel that I can already see much of what Mason addresses becoming reality. Reading this book during the upcoming EU referendum also makes for a fascinating experience. Mason makes the claim that the end of Capitalism and Neo-Liberalism will likely be caused by an outside shock of exactly the sort that the UK leaving the EU might cause. Although that scenario currently seems unlikely, should the UK remain in the EU there is still the possibility that other countries, like Greece , Italy, Spain, may decide that they would prefer not to accept the conditions of remaining and their leaving may be the shock that hastens the end of our current economic model and the move forwards to postcapitalism.

One of the aspects of this coming revolution that fascinates me is that this ongoing change is being driven not by my generation but by the next. I already have an interest in how those younger than me engage with and consume media and, having talked with my younger sister and her friends, it seems that there is a clear difference. I am still stuck buying and owning DVDS, and watching television, though the means by which I access these shows is via the internet. But my sister and her friends don’t own or watch their TV except to have games consoles and internet connections attached to them and all media is consumed through this medium and via streaming services like Netflix. As a result the model for this particular part of their lives has shifted and I only see this change becoming more dramatic. It also changes how her generation access their news, bypassing conventional sources, and pushing them towards different agencies and I find this to be a very interesting thing indeed!

Postcapitalism is a superb book that is accessible and well written and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t recommend it highly enough and if you have any interest in the future, in the end of Capitalism and Neo-liberalism, and in what might replace it in the years to come, then you should read it. I’m glad that I did! Up next time I hope to review either be ‘The Hollowing of Democracy’ or Johann Hari’s ‘Chasing the Scream’. I just have to find the time to actually read them both! Cheers!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My review of ‘Captain America: Civil War’!

So, I’ve been a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man first arrived on the big screen. With the exception of the Hulk movies, which aren’t really a part of this Universe, I’ve seen every release and I think that Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America 2 are superb movies. Except for Iron Man 2, which is terrible, every other Marvel movie has been at least good and often much better than that. So I am very sad to say that I found Captain America: Civil War to be a huge disappointment. Now, before I go any further, I am going to talk about the events in this movie so SPOILER WARNING! If you do not wish to know what happens then please do not read any further. If you’ve either seen it or don’t care about spoilers then please continue…

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Before we get to why I disliked this movie I should run through the events that occur. After a brief prelude involving the Winter Soldier eliminating a target and retrieving a highly suspicious package, Captain America: Civil War opens with a rather spectacular sequence where the Avengers try to prevent a miscreant from stealing a biological agent. This fight ends with an unfortunate number of civilian casualties, opening the way for the registration arguments to be made. From there, the bombing of UN headquarters and the death of the King of Wakanda leads to the introduction of the Black Panther and the Winter Soldier being flushed out into the open. Following Bucky’s capture, the principle villain of the piece, Baron Zemo, frees him, leading to Cap and Bucky attempting to pursue Zemo, while the Avengers try to stop them. People take sides, there’s an impressive battle where no one actually gets hurt, and then Cap and Bucky leave to continue their pursuit. There’s a lovely reveal that really should’ve lead to the actual battle between the opposing sides and then the movie ends. I don’t know if there were post credit sequences as I didn’t stay to find out.

So, my biggest issue with this film is that it seems to be composed of several separate stories that should’ve been movies in their own right but instead have been forced together so that Marvel can move onto the next phase of its plans more quickly than they otherwise could. I think this was a mistake and that the two stories should’ve remained separate. You have the Captain America and Bucky thread where they pursue Zemo and try to prevent the activation of more Winter Soldiers, which is a solid Brubakeresque story that deserved to be the central plot of the film and given time to breathe. And then you have the Civil War silliness which also should also have been its own film, probably Avengers 3, but then I guess Marvel didn’t want to wait that long and so decided to combine the two together.

On the Civil War side, videos are played for the benefit of both audience and Avengers that highlight the battles of recent years and the civilian casualties that clearly must have been incurred, something that I wish the previous movies had been more overt about showing. Marvel clearly want a younger audience and so have avoided actually showing any carnage. I also have significant issues with the handling of the Civil War argument as, when we hear the case for registration, no one enunciates that, without our heroes to save New York in Avengers and Sokovia in Age of Ulton, the world would have been conquered or destroyed many times over. This point of contention is glossed over as if were incidental and not central to the arguments being discussed. This is also a problem.

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The biggest issue that I have with this movie is that it is not a Captain America movie; it’s an Avengers movie. There are far too many characters, all of whom need screen time, and others who need an introduction so that we care about them because they have upcoming movies that Marvel want us to go see. Two separate movies would’ve allowed space to explore Cap and Bucky’s rekindled friendship but instead the film sidelines these two for the sake of spending time with everyone else. Cap 2 didn’t get to the heart of Bucky and Cap’s relationship nearly enough and in Cap 3 the problem is even worse. Were this an Avengers movie, I would have no issue. But as it is, the film avoids everything that I wanted it to focus on. Oh, and the introduction of Spider-Man, entertaining as it was, should never have happened here. The scene between Stark and Parker eats time that would’ve been better spent pursuing Cap and Bucky’s relationship. Put it in Avengers 3: Civil War and it would’ve been fine but in this film it is simply wasting time.

Finally, Rhodey should have also died, not only because his fall would’ve clearly killed him but because this movie really needed a character death at the end. Mark Millar understood this when he penned the comic and Marvel should’ve known that all of this silly fighting over nothing should’ve had consequences. Otherwise what was the point. Sure, Rhode’s won’t be War Machine again but it’s not enough for a movie like this. There will likely be more fallout in subsequent movies but, given that Avengers 3 and 4 won’t be out for many years to come, I have no idea when we’ll get the chance to see what Cap and Bucky’s actions in breaking out their comrades, none of whom can return to their lives anytime soon, will incur. Hawkeye should’ve stayed retired, eh?

To me, Cap 3 feels like a massive misstep, I am thoroughly disappointed and this is possibly the first serious mistake that Marvel have made since launching their cinematic Universe. Well, besides the god awful Iron Man 2. Perhaps they are feeling the pressure from DC and feel that they must compete but given that they are at least a decade ahead this is something that really shouldn’t be worrying about. I have seen every Marvel release since Iron Man and bought most of these movies on either DVD or Blu-Ray but I won’t be buying Captain America: Civil War and I’m not even sure that I will go and see any other Marvel movies in the cinema unless the reviews are particularly good. Dr Strange looks interesting and, as a stand-alone story, maybe it will avoid the problems of Civil War. But I am far less interested in the upcoming Avengers movies and that’s a problem for someone who’s been a fan of these movies for so long. What a damn shame!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘Ramblings’ on Rumble!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about any comics on this blog and so it is to them that I now turn my attention. I’m a huge fan of comics and I’ve been reading as many as I can get my hands on for the past ten years or so. I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (which is well worth the money in my opinion, more here: http://tinyurl.com/hayjok2) and I use my local library to get my hands on the series that I am less interested in buying but would still like to read. I then purchase as many graphic novels as I can afford but, as my money only stretches so far, I am very careful with my choices. So, it is not often that I take a risk on a series that I haven’t seen reviews for. But that’s exactly what I did with the comic book series that is the subject of this week’s blog post: Rumble.

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Rumble comes from co-creators John Arcudi and James Harren who previously worked together on a volume of the Hellboy spin-off, BPRD, and this series is, in my opinion, an excellent comic book. Hellboy, and all the Mignola associated spinoffs, are also brilliant comics that are, if you’ve never given them a go, well worth your time and this was where I was first introduced to this creator pairing. Rumble is published by Image comics, whose reputation for supporting creator-owned comics is well-earned, and their tactic of releasing the first trade of a new series at a low-price point is very smart indeed. I picked up Rumble on the strength of the creators previous works and I am so glad that I did. Besides his work on BPRD, I am also familiar with Arcudi’s phenomenal, ‘A God Somewhere’, a brutal and vivid tale of superheroes that is far removed from the relative tameness of most of DC and Marvel’s output. If you’ve never heard of that story, hunt it out too and read it, it’s great! So, onto Rumble.

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Rumble is a fantasy tale where two guys, Bobby and Del, are caught up in a “ten-thousand year old grudge match” between ancient races, as the blurb puts it. The story combines fantasy and humour to good effect and this is one of those comics where both writer and artist are truly in synch. Harren’s kinetic and expressive art complements Arcudi’s story remarkably well infusing the fight scenes, of which there are many, with dynamism and brutality, and this serves the story well. Arcudi’s characters are well-drawn and fully-formed including our human protagonists and the warrior God Rathraq who now inhabits the body of a Scarecrow, which tells you the tone of the tale quite nicely! The creators bring together the fantastical with the ordinary in this series and I very much like the way the reader is dropped straight into the story and forced to keep up as matters are eventually explained.

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Rumble reminds me of several other stories. BPRD, obviously, it’s hard not to see a little of their previous collaboration in this tale, but I am also reminded of Jeff Smith’s wonderful ‘Bone’ series in the way that the tale is told. And that is huge compliment, Bone being one of the best series of recent decades (seriously, if you haven’t read that, go and do so right now!). But Rumble is also something unique and it stands out as an individual and gripping tale. So far two trades have been released, ‘What Colour of Darkness’ and ‘A Woe that is Madness’, and both are great. Arcudi and Harren now have a loyal reader in me not only for Rumble but for any other series that they produce in the near future. I highly recommend that you hunt this series out and give it a go (and at the cheap price of the first volume, you really should!) and help support fabulous creator-owned series like this one. For the future of comics is truly creator-owned!

 

Next time I hope to review the superb ‘PostCapitalism’ by Paul Mason. If I can find the time to finish it, that is. Till then, I hope you enjoy Rumble! I am!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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