Stuart Hall: Selected Political Writings

The Great Moving Right Show and other essays



Format: Paperback

Publication date: January 1, 2017

Page extent: 374

141 in stock

‘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, University of California, Berkeley

In one sense, of course, all of Stuart Hall’s writing was political, but this collection focuses on the essays he wrote throughout his life that directly engaged with political issues. From the beginning, his analyses focused strongly on the central role of culture in politics, and his insights are evident across the whole selection, whether he is writing about Thatcher’s authoritarianism or the double shuffles of Tony Blair.

These essays come from three broad periods: the 1950s and 1960s, when Hall was involved in the New Left; the 1970s and 1980s, when he evolved his critique of Thatcherism; and from the 1990s until the end of his life, when he focused on the emergence of neoliberalism.

The editors have brought together the best and most representative works of a writer with a unique and conjunctural approach to understanding politics, and have collected those works that have a general application to broader political questions. The collection is therefore valuable for readers interested in the politics of the past sixty years, in specific political questions, such as around political commitment, or the politics of empire, and specific political moments, such as the Cuban Crisis, or the actions of New Labour. But Hall’s engaging writing and the connections here between his more obviously political writing and the other areas of his work—including identity politics and race—also make the collection an essential resource for those interested in politics more generally.

This collection also contains an introduction and afterword by the editors.

1. The New Conservatism and the Old
Universities & Left Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1957)

2. A Sense of Classlessness
Universities & Left Review, No. 5 (Winter 1958)

3. The Supply of Demand
In Out of Apathy, New Left Books/Stevens and Sons (1960)

4. The Cuban Crisis: Trial-run or Steps towards Peace?
War & Peace, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January-March 1963)

5. Political Commitment
In The Committed Church, Darton, Longman and Todd (1966)

6. The First New Left: Life and Times
In Out of Apathy (1990)

7. A World at One with Itself
New Society No. 403 (1970)

8. Racism and Reaction
In Five Views of Multi-Racial Britain, Commission for Racial Equality (1978)

9. 1970: Selsdon Man: Birth of the Law and Order Society
Written with C. Critcher, T. Jefferson, J. Clarke & B. Roberts
From Chapter 9 of Policing the Crisis: ‘Mugging’, the State and Law and Order, Macmillan (1978)

10. The Great Moving Right Show
Marxism Today, Vol. 23, No. 1 (January 1979)

11. The ‘Little Caesars’ of Social Democracy
Marxism Today, Vol. 25, No. 4 (April 1981)

12. The Empire Strikes Back
New Socialist (July-August 1982)

13. The Crisis of Labourism
In The Future of the Left, Polity Press/Basil Blackwell (1984)

14. The State: Socialism’s Old Caretaker
Marxism Today, Vol. 28, No. 11 (November 1984)

15. Blue Election, Election Blues
Marxism Today, Vol. 38, No. 7 (July 1987)

16. The Meaning of New Times
New Times, L&W (1989)

15. And Not A Shot Fired: The End of Thatcherism?
Marxism Today, Vol. 42, No. 12 (December 1991)

17 Our Mongrel Selves
New Statesman (1992)

18. The Great Moving Nowhere Show
Marxism Today, special issue (November-December 1998)

19. New Labour’s Double-Shuffle
Soundings, No. 24 (Summer 2003)

20. The Neoliberal Revolution
Soundings, No. 48 (Summer 2011)

‘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 analysed, but as documents that provide us with powerful political and theoretical tools to understand our present and change our future.’ Professor Hazel Carby, Yale University 

‘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, University of California, Berkeley

‘Hall’s capacity to remind us that it was no less possible to think Britain without its empire than it was the colonies without the metropolitan “motherland” was a product of the changing conjunctures in which he lived his life. It was the quickening pace of decolonization, together with the escalation of the commonplace racism and racial violence against people of color in Britain in the mid-1960s, that pushed the legacies of colonialism to the forefront of Hall’s work. The last colonial could only slowly decolonize his own thought.’

‘That the British left has yet to decolonize—to fully understand the entanglement of capitalism and colonialism or the intersections of class and race they have created—was painfully evident from its struggle to make sense of the resurgence of white nationalism unleashed by Brexit. It is, as Hall wrote of the left at the height of Thatcherism, a hard road to renewal. Let’s hope it is not also a long one.’

– James Vernon, Public Books


‘By gathering together these pieces in one place this volume shows just how eager and unremitting Hall was in tackling the changing political dynamics of the time. Unafraid and unreserved in his analysis, the writing is full-on in it’s speaking of truth to power. The style varies over time, but the sparkle and urgency remain throughout. As well as being described as a cultural theorist, Hall is often seen to be a public intellectual. Here we see these characteristics mixing together in a volatile but controlled cocktail. The potency of the voice and its immersion in political debates and dialogue is striking — it is perhaps so striking because it is so unusual in its tenor and almost unique in its power. In this regard this collection is a call to engage as well as a guide in how to question our pressing political concerns. It demands involvement. It demands thoughtful and considered interaction — without the need to pacify our critical edges. Hall’s edge was certainly never dulled, not by time or by what might have appeared to be a potentially futile and harsh political landscape.’

– David Beer, Medium


‘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


‘Davison, Featherstone, Rustin and Schwarz have done a magnificent job of capturing his ideas in this nearly fifty year evolution. Hall was drawn intuitively to Freudianism (with much of the British New Left) and deconstruction, precisely because the old truisms of the British class struggle—the working class triumph over a collapsing capitalism—had run dry. […] Hall captured the status of the underclass effectively as he posed the political and social reality of the 1980s.’

– Paul Buhle, Labour and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA)


‘The centerpiece essay is “The Great Moving Right Show,” his 1979 analysis of Margaret Thatcher’s “authoritarian populism.” Her rise was as much a cultural turning point as a political one, in Hall’s view—an enmity toward the struggling masses, obscured by her platform’s projected attitude of tough, Victorian moderation. Many of the pieces in this collection orbit the topic of “common sense,” how culture and politics together reinforce an idea of what is acceptable at any given time.’

– Hua Hsu, the New Yorker


‘Both as a speaker and on the page, Stuart Hall brought the analysis of politics alive in a way which is sorely missed in 2017. These essays show a sharpness of intellect and a warm embrace of marxist analysis that are a positive joy to read.’

– Mark Perryman, Culture Matters


‘Hall’s compelling and analytically rigorous theses are eloquent, precise and exciting to read.’

– Max Shock, Political Studies Review


‘Although we can no longer know precisely what Hall would have made of the present, confusing conjuncture, the publication of [Selected Political Writings does] provide an approach and a way of thinking that, hopefully, will inspire a new generation of thinking activists.’

– Tony Jefferson, Theory, Culture & Society


‘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


‘In 2017 we wait to see whether Jeremy Corbyn’s very different style and strategy from his recent predecessors can build the mass movement of the left Hall longed for. This is a thoughtful collection of essays by a man whose ideals one can only admire…’

– Pat Thane, Cercles


‘This book makes clear how useful and provocative Hall’s ideas still are and should help to ensure the continuing liveliness of scholarship on the New Left as well as the teaching of the subject.’

-Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, H-Net Reviews