Theory & Struggle is the journal of the Marx Memorial Library published by Liverpool University Press. Currently published annually, it features articles that grapple with debates taking place within Marxist circles as well studying critical developments in the labour and progressive movements in Britain and internationally, including movements for gender equality, for racial equality and for peace.

This issue includes the usual combination of articles focusing on political, economic and environmental debates, trade union issues and struggles, news and views from the Marx Memorial Library & Workers' School and partner organisations, followed by a reviews section. In addition, this issue includes a new feature which invites contributors to reflect on a book that has influenced their thinking in critical ways. The first article in this series, by the Liberation General Secretary Roger McKenzie, reflects on Angela Davis's autobiography and its significance for equalities struggles.

You are here

Back to top

Jack Hastings painted the extraordinary fresco which dominates the Reading Room at Marx Memorial Library.

In The Red Earl Selina Hastings tells the extraordinary story of her father, Jack Hastings, 16th Earl of Huntingdon. In 1925, Hastings infuriated his ultra-conservative parents by turning his back on centuries of tradition to make a scandalous run-away marriage. With his beautiful Italian wife he then left England for the other side of the world, further enraging his family by determining on a career as a painter.

The couple settled first in Australia, then on the island of Moorea in the South Pacific. Here, they led an idyllic existence until a bizarre accident forced them to leave the tropics forever. En route back to England, they stopped for a year in California, where Hastings continued to paint while enjoying a glamorous social life with actors such as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.

While in San Francisco, Hastings met the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and persuaded him to take him on as an assistant. For the next nearly four years he lived at close quarters with Rivera and with his wife, Frida Kahlo, first in San Francisco, then Detroit, and finally Mexico City. When eventually Hastings returned home it was to be faced with fighting on all fronts: in Spain during the Civil War; in England with his parents; and lastly with his wife, determined to keep him locked into a marriage from which by now he was desperate to escape.

This enthralling story, superbly well written, not only gives a new perspective on two of the 20th-century's greatest artists, Rivera and Kahlo, but also reveals in fascinating detail the private life of an aristocratic family of 100 years ago.


An MML publication on historical materialism. As global capitalism lurches from one crisis to the next we are seeing a resurgence of interest in Marxist ideas and politics. Marxist thought provides a way of understanding the economic crises rippling across the globe, the environmental destruction and climate change that threaten to change our lives and the desperate inequality and poverty that blights human society.


A pamphlet about the build-up to the Russian Revolution, the execution of the revolution itself and the impact it had on the course and outcome of WW1, including in the European and British labour movements. 

The October Revolution of 1917 was a seismic event which uprooted the established order of capitalism in Europe, changing the course of international history. The revolution profoundly altered the Russian state and impacted the outcome of WW1 spurring Western governments to intervene to prevent the Communist ideology spreading westward. Despite attempts to stifle it, the revolution influenced popular left-wing movements across Europe, sparking other revolutions and uprisings. It is remarkable to note that the revolution occurred despite its contradictory nature, taking place in the least educated and most economically backward country in Europe. This pamphlet traces the revolution from its origins through to its implementation, and thereafter the explosion of actions, reactions and movements it affected. Written and published in the centenary year of the revolution, this pamphlet accompanied an exhibition exploring the same themes, which was displayed at academic institutions across the country. It was published as part of a larger celebration of the Russian Revolution, which included the launch of a website for researchers, as well as many lectures and discussions, culminating in an international conference held at the TUC hall on November 4, 2017. This project was made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and made generous use of the resources of the Marx Memorial Library, the Society for Co-Operation in Russian and Soviet Studies, Sputnik, RIA Novosti and the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick.

Proud Journey by Bob Cooney - a Spanish Civil War Memoir

By Bob Cooney, with Introduction by Meirian Jump (Manifesto Press, London: 2015)

Bob Cooney (1907-1984) was a prominent anti-fascist and communist in Aberdeen who joined the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Published here for the first time, Proud Journey is his memoir of those turbulent times. It takes us from street clashes with Blackshirts to the battlefields of Spain and the heroism and sacrifice of Cooney and his comrades facing the forces of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini. Written in 1944 and with the Second World War as a backdrop, this is a rousing personal account of one man’s part in the long and bloody fight against fascism that helped define this key period of twentieth century history. Cooney paints an action-packed and politically-charged picture of struggle, solidarity, comradeship – and hope.

Bob Cooney writes honestly and in great detail about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, successfully placing the war in the context of the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930s and the inaction of Western powers, through the policy of non-intervention, to prevent its spread. He writes of conversations and anecdotes with his comrades, but also analyses the complex politics of the conflict. His lifelong communist and anti-fascist beliefs are reflected through his passionate and gripping words. Cooney's Proud Journey is one of many International Brigade memoirs housed in the Spanish Collection archives at the Marx Memorial Library & Workers' School. The collection was originally donated by the International Brigade Association, and contains a variety of original material such as photographs, posters, banners and letters of correspondence.

123 pages

Gertrude Elias pamphlet

A pamphlet dedicated to artist, activist and writer Gertrude Elias, who left her unique collection to MML. It showcases a stunning series of anti-fascist cartoons alongside a brief biography, an introduction to her archive and an extract from her memoir. This publication was the second in the MML's 'from the archives' series.

The archive of artist and writer Gertrude Elias, housed in the Marx Memorial Library, has uncovered some fascinating material. The variety of correspondences, writings, collages and drawings from Elias are an insight into her deeply held political beliefs and activism, as well as her original artistic flair. This pamphlet aims to pay tribute to her underrated work and showcase eight of her drawings. Nilu and Martin York, who were friends of Elias’, provide a brief biography of her work, plus an outline of her anti-imperialist and anti-fascist activism. Then Elias explains in her own words the context of some particular cartoons of hers, drawings that she is convinced George Orwell heavily drew upon for the concept of his anti-Soviet novel Animal Farm. Regardless of what one considers about this controversy, the cartoons are undeniably interesting - both aesthetically and historically. This pamphlet serves to encourage familiarity with the breadth of Elias’ writings and work, and promote interest in the library’s archive.

16 pages
Published 2016

Marx 200 book cover

This book, published by Praxis Press, examines the significance of Marxism for today’s world. Leading scholars and activists from different countries – including Cuba, India and the UK – show that Marx’s ideas continue to provide us with the analysis we need to understand our world today in order to change it.

The relevance of Marx’s contribution to political economy is discussed, as is Marxism and the ongoing battle of ideas. John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, writes about Marxism as a force for change in the 21st century. The leader of the Indian Communist Party, Sitaram Yechury, focuses on Marx’s legacy 200 years on.

Other wide-ranging topics demonstrating the relevance of Marxist ideas and approaches in the current climate include: ‘neoliberalism, austerity and Marx’, ’capitalism and new technology’, 'Marxism and Women', ’Marxism and the environment’, ’Marxism and culture’ as well as ‘the role of the state’, ‘Marxism and the present as history’ and ‘Populist nationalism’.

The book is based on a major international conference organised by the Marx Memorial Library to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx on 5 May 2018.