Heart of a Dog – Bulgakov. [REVIEW]

I’ve just read the Random House (Vintage Classics) translation of this work.

Bulgakov wrote Heart of a Dog in 1925. It was seized by the secret police and not published until long after his death – in the period of Glasnost. This book, according to the introduction, marked the start of Bulgakov’s harsh treatment by the Bolsheviks. All his life Bulgakov struggled to get any works produced. Many of his plays were banned. His major work, The Master and Margarita, was also not published until after his death, (though in this case in 1966 – after the Khrushchev ‘thaw’). It is a miracle that he wasn’t sent to the Gulag. (This is said to have been down to Stalin’s personal support for him).

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Review: The Therapy Industry – Paul Maloney

This is a review of Paul Maloney’s book criticising the Therapy Industry. Maloney is a practising clinical psychologist. His criticisms of therapy are those of someone who is engaged in clinical practice in the NHS. This grounding makes for a different kind of criticism than the kind based on cultural analysis, for example, that of Jeffrey Masson. For example; unlike Masson Maloney is quite willing to take up and examine the (inevitable) ‘studies’ which have found that ‘therapy works’ (See Chapter 4). He criticizes these from the point of view of clinical psychology.

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Officious – Josie Appleton

For several years Appleton has been documenting the ever-increasing reach of petty bureaucracy in the UK. She has focussed on several areas including: ‘Safeguarding’ and the notorious ‘Criminal Records Checks’ (now re-branded as ‘DBS’ checks), excesses of local authority litter enforcement officers, the introduction of ‘Public Space Protection Orders’, controls on photography, and many other areas of increasing regulation of everyday life. This work has been voiced through the web site the ‘Manifesto Club‘ and associated campaigns as well as articles in the press and appearances on Radio.

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State and Revolution. V. I. Lenin

This revolutionary pamphlet was written by Lenin in August and September 1917, that is between the two revolutions in Russia. (The February uprising which led to the abdication of the Tsar and the October coup led by the Bolsheviks against the provisional government).  Lenin is a theoretician of the Revolution. The book is both theoretical and a ‘manual for the revolution’ at the same time. Lenin draws on Engels and Marx and is at pains to explain that he is offering the “pure” and correct interpretation of Marxism; against various “vulgar” interpretations which are used to justify “opportunism”. Opportunism is Lenin’s word for those who believed in parliamentary road to socialism. In this there is a certain element of religious fanaticism; only we (the Bolsheviks) are the true carriers of the faith. Of course; for Lenin, Marxism was not a faith but a theory which was based on concrete analysis of historical events which had been carried out by Marx with “the accuracy of observation characterising the natural sciences”.

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Review: Celebration of Awareness by Ivan Illich

This book is a collection of illich’s papers and presentations on a range of themes. Quite a few concern the role of the Church in the modern world. Others are concerned with questions of the developing world and how best to provide aid. The book was first published in 1971. The thoughts and insights in it are if anything more relevant today.

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Review of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed

First published in 1968 this is a world-famous work on pedagogy in the context of a struggle for liberation. The educational criticism and theory is developed in the context of a Marxist dialectic. Even outside of that political context the book still has huge value as a pointer to an approach to teaching which is based on solidarity and not manipulation and oppression.

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