Today marks the 169th anniversary of the publication of one of the most influential documents in world history: The Communist Manifesto. In this introduction to the new edition, published alongside Lenin's April Theses, Tariq Ali contextualises the period—the eve of the 1848 revolutions—in which Marx and Engels penned their masterpiece and argues that it desperately needs a successor.
Protesters blockade Vancouver International Airport to prevent deportation of Lalibar Singh, December 2007. via No One is Illegal Vancouver.
Things are often clearer from the outside. I currently live in Mexico, where the stakes of a Trump presidency are so obvious that his unexpected victory has provoked the worst collapse in the peso in nearly a decade. Here, the left-wing daily La Jornada recently put things as clearly as they need to be put: “There is a difference between legal and legitimate,” and the outpouring of street protests that greeted Trump’s election have made this difference perfectly legible. Just because Trump was legally elected doesn’t mean we need to accept his presidency — and much less his racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic ideas — as legitimate.
What has become of William Morris the socialist, the author of one of the finest works of utopian political fiction, and the founder of the Socialist League? How can we wrest him away from the image of him as the "intellectually disorganised artist beloved by the heritage industry"? In this essay on Kristin Ross's Communal Luxury, Matthew Beaumont analyses Ross's attempt to rescue Morris for the present, and for the task of liberation.
This article first appeared in The Journal of William Morris Studies, 21.4 (2016), where it formed part of a symposium-in-print on Kristin Ross's Communal Luxury. Back issues can be purchased here. A chronological index of the Journal is available online.