Selected Political Writings

The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays

Selected Political Writings

Stuart Hall: Selected Writings

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Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: Published: January 2017

Cultural Studies, Politics > Political Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Selected Political Writings gathers Stuart Hall's best-known and most important essays that directly engage with political issues. Written between 1957 and 2011 and appearing in publications such as New Left Review and Marxism Today, these twenty essays span the whole of Hall's career, from his early involvement with the New Left, to his critique of Thatcherism, to his later focus on neoliberalism. Whether addressing economic decline and class struggle, the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the politics of empire, Hall's singular commentary and theorizations make this volume essential for anyone interested in the politics of the last sixty years.


"It’s hard to imagine a better time for the arrival of this book. Political uncertainty and reactionary posturing are a defining feature of recent months. The care and thoughtfulness carried in its pages are very welcome, the sense of context and sharpness of insight feel invaluable. . . . Hall’s writing was always political, but here we find him exercising his prodigious analytical skills on explictly political questions and issues. The result is something to behold. A book that scans across time telling stories that are likely to matter whenever the book is read." — David Beer, Hong Kong Review of Books

"Hall's metier was to tease out the competing histories, the contradictory political, economic, and social forces condensed within a particular historical moment, an excavation of ideology he called 'conjunctural analysis.' . . . [H]is work is all too timely, for the haphazard project of neoliberalism, justified retroactively by nonsensical appeals to the 'free market,' is as advanced as the decades-long economic decline it magics away with bubbles and rhetoric (GDP balloons; personal wealth stagnates)." — Michael Robbins, Bookforum

"Stuart Hall’s pen is sharp and well-informed. One does not have to agree with everything he writes to acknowledge this truth. This collection of Hall’s political writings is simultaneously a history, a series of lessons, and a preview of our current situation. It serves as a delightful indication of why he was so widely read when he was alive." — Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch

"Given the current examples of national leadership bordering on the bizarre it is arguably time for us all to attempt a deeper analysis of the political, and hopeful, earn the politicians we deserve.  In this Stuart Hall can be recommended as a guide.  Although his study is specific to British politics, given the similarities of politics in the western world, his analysis remains relevant." — Clare W. Brook, Queensland Reviewers Collective

"Hall’s work has become especially resonant as Britain has voted for a narrower identity and a more isolationist attitude to the rest of the world.... There is a generosity and literary imagination in his writing—a recognition that humans are complex, contradictory creatures shaped by, among other things, what they believe, where they live, how they shop, and who they sleep with." — Jessica Loudis, The New Republic

"Hall wrote these essays primarily for contemporaries also seeking to make sense of their particular political contexts, but they now stand as useful and powerful texts of leftist political thought for scholars, activists and students.... Hall’s compelling and analytically rigorous theses are eloquent, precise and exciting to read." — Max Shock, Political Studies Review

"[Hall] is able to provide a reading that, going behind the ‘facts’, is able to show what is taking place behind all our backs.... The grasp of detail together with underlying shifts and patterns; and the ability to see all this almost as it was happening (and throw in jocular asides). Most of the articles in Political Writings were responses to what was happening then, not written with the historian’s benefit of distance and hindsight." — Tony Jefferson, Theory, Culture & Society

"The editors of this collection have presciently selected a wide spectrum of Hall’s writings to show that while history may not be repeating itself, many issues we presently encounter have been previously reflected upon by Hall.... The struggle between the old and the new underlies Hall’s essays in this collection, and reading through them it becomes again apparent how our present echoes in the past so admirably analysed by Hall." — Ali Meghji, Cultural Studies

"Selected Political Writings is both a timely an enjoyable read. On the page, and for those of us who were lucky enough to hear him, as a speaker too, Stuart Hall brought the analysis of politics alive in a way which is sorely missed in 2017. These essays provide a sharpness of intellect and warm embrace of analysis that are a positive joy to read, new and afresh or but read in a new times, good and bad, that even Stuart Hall could never have foretold. " — Mark Perryman, Open Democracy

Selected Political Writings is a ‘greatest hits’ of political writing from one of postwar Britain’s most consistently interesting, innovative, and perceptive analysts.” — Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, H-Ideas, H-Net Reviews

"An exemplary model of what rigorous, engaged public intellectual work can look like. . . . The bulk of these essays revolve around Hall’s attempts to complicate his readers’ understanding of what constitutes effective political action." — Gilbert B. Rodman, Journal of Communication Inquiry

"Selected Political Writings highlights Hall’s legacy and the analytical tools he provided for us." — Evan Smith, Australian Journal of Politics and History

"Hall's writings make an extremely important contribution not only in our understanding of the past and the cultural, political, sociological, and theoretical formations that Hall analyzed, but as documents that provide us with powerful political and theoretical tools to understand our present and change our future." — Hazel Carby

"Stuart Hall was one of the great political intellectuals of our time—learned, perspicacious, provocative, and wise. He was also a master essayist. This splendid selection, spanning more than fifty years, is a feast." — Wendy Brown


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Stuart Hall (1932–2014) was one of the most prominent and influential scholars and public intellectuals of his generation. Hall appeared widely on British media, taught at the University of Birmingham and the Open University, was the founding editor of New Left Review, and served as the director of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. He is the author of Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands and Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History, both also published by Duke University Press.

Sally Davison is the managing editor at Lawrence & Wishart and the editor of Soundings.

David Featherstone is Senior Lecturer of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

Michael Rustin is Professor of Sociology at the University of East London.

Bill Schwarz is Professor of English at Queen Mary University of London.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Sally Davison, David Featherstone and Bill Schwarz  1
Note on Texts  16
Part 1: The New Left and after
1. The new Conservatism and the old (1957)  18
2. A sense of classlessness (1958)  28
3. The supply of demand (1960)  47
4. The Cuban crisis: trial-run or steps towards peace? (1963)  70
5. Political commitment (1966)  85
6. A world at one with itself (1970)  107
7. The first New Left: life and times (1990)  117
Part 2: Thatcherism
8. Racism and reaction (1978)  142
9. 1970: Birth of the law and order society (1978)  158
10. The great moving right show (1979)  172
11. The 'Little Caesars' of social democracy (1981)  187
12. The empire strikes back (1982)  200
13. The crisis of Labourism (1984)  207
14. The state: socialism's old caretaker (1984)  223
15. Blue election, election blues (1987)  238
16. The meaning of new times (1989)  248
17. And not a shot fired: the end of Thatcherism? (1991)  266
18. Our mongrel selves (1992)  275
Part 3: Neoliberalism
19. The great moving nowhere show (1998)  283
20. New Labour's double-shuffle (2003)  301
21. The neoliberal revolution (2011)  317
Afterword / Michael Rustin  336
Notes on historical figures  354
Index  361
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6906-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6386-6
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