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What are you reading at this moment?

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Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Apr 2014, 11:15
Pioneer
Post 03 May 2014, 00:16
heiss93 wrote:
I decided to start a book club thread similar to the What are you listening to at this moment? thread but for books. This could be a good way for us to share any interesting books we've read, without having to go into the depth deserving of an independent post. S-E Book Reports.


I've been reading "Socialism Betrayed" by Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny: http://www.amazon.com/Socialism-Betrayed-Behind-Collapse-Soviet/dp/1450241719.
This book tries to explain the direct and indirect causes of the collapse of the USSR, and debunks the myth that Soviet socialism was destined to fail.

I've also been reading "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein: http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine.
In this book, Klein argues that the neo-liberal camp has used disasters (either natural, unintentionally or intentionally man-made) to push through unpopular measures. She describes how disaster capitalism was used in Pinochet's Chile, post-Soviet Russia, the first years of 'Solidarity' in power in Poland, Hurrican Katrina in the USA, post-Apartheid South Africa, etc.

Another interesting book I've read is "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" by Ha-Joon Chang (a South Korean economist at the University of Cambridge): http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/aug/29/ha-joon-chang-23-things.
Chang argues that there are no such things as free market and state intervention-free economy.
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Soviet cogitations: 55
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 15 Apr 2008, 14:15
Pioneer
Post 04 May 2014, 01:48
I've just started re-reading Daniel Pipes' Russia Under the Old Regime (http://www.amazon.com/Russia-under-Old-Regime-Edition/dp/0140247688) which I'd read when doing my BA some 20 years ago (
). I'd bought myself 5 books before Christmas last year, all based on Russia. After I've read these books, I intend on reading up on the Yugoslav Wars.

Prior to Pipes' book, I'd just finished reading this http://www.amazon.com/Rhodesian-War-Military-History-Stackpole/dp/0811707253/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399164405&sr=1-1&keywords=rhodesia+stackpole ; The Rhodesian War: A Military History. I heartily recommend it.
Soviet cogitations: 1
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 May 2014, 01:59
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 04 May 2014, 02:06
Hi! I need your help, folks. Can you help me find free to download Progress Publishers books?
Soviet cogitations: 108
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Feb 2014, 12:33
Pioneer
Post 09 May 2014, 08:29
I'm currently reading three books (I'm never able to focus on just one...); Chinese Marxism in Flux, 1978-84: Essays on Epistemology, Ideology, and Political Economy,
Quote:
The Chinese Reassessment of Socialism 1976-1992
and En biografi over Olaf Palma (
Quote:
A Biography of Olaf Palme
- the last "great" social democratic politician...
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Soviet cogitations: 796
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 17 May 2014, 04:31
Nice collection of Soviet texts here:
http://www.redstarpublishers.org/#SovUn

I was reading A. Zhdanov: History of Philosophy, 1948.
http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/a ... t.htm#phil

He critiques the work of Alexandrov for being overly lenient towards all previous bourgeois philosophies, in that virtually any famous philosopher can be called 'progressive for his time'.

Quote:
Comrade Alexandrov finds it possible to say something good about almost every philosopher of the past. The more eminent the bourgeois philosopher, the greater the flattery that is offered him. All of this shows that Comrade Alexandrov, perhaps without being aware of it, is himself a captive of bourgeois historians, who proceed from the assumption that every philosopher is first of all a professional associate, and only secondarily an opponent. Such conceptions, if they should take hold among us, would lead inevitably to objectivism, to subservience to bourgeois philosophers and exaggeration of their services, towards depriving our philosophy of its militant offensive spirit. And that would signify the departure from the basic principle of materialism – its principle of direction, its partisanship. Well did Lenin teach us that “materialism includes, so to speak, partisanship, i.e. the obligation when estimating any event to adopt directly and frankly the viewpoint of a definite social group”.

The exposition of philosophical views in Alexandrov’s book is abstract, objectivist, neutral. Philosophical schools are placed one after another or one near the other in the book, but are not shown in struggle against one another. That, too, is a “tribute” to the academic professorial “tendency”. In this connection, it is apparently not accidental that the author’s exposition of the principle of partisanship in philosophy is not satisfactory. The author refers to the philosophy of Hegel as an example of partisanship in philosophy; and the struggle of antagonistic philosophies has for him its illustration in the struggle of the reactionary and progressive principles within Hegel himself. Such a method of demonstration is not only objectivist eclecticism, but it clearly embellishes Hegel, inasmuch as in this way one wants to show that in Hegel’s philosophy there is as much progressive as there is reactionary content.


This was at a time when Hegel and German Idealism was out of favor and so Alexandrov is accused of over-emphasizing it's influence on Marx's dialectic.
Kamran Heiss
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Soviet cogitations: 796
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 27 Jun 2014, 16:15
I was skimming through the philosophical passages of Tolstoy's War and Peace, which is a great work of philosophical history, independent of the novel. As a work of prose nonfiction, it gives an excellent account of the Napoleonic invasion of Russia.

I was particularly intrigued by Tolstoy's attempt to apply the infinitesimal to historical science. This is a most dialectical view of history, and prefigures Engels' comment about the relation of calculus to lower mathematics being analogous to that between dialectics and formal logic. This flows from Tolstoy's proto-materialist understanding that the masses are the makers of history, and that the so-called Great Men are slaves to necessity.

https://staff.fnwi.uva.nl/t.h.koornwind ... lstoy.html
Kamran Heiss
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Soviet cogitations: 796
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 04 Jul 2014, 16:55
John Dewey (1859-1952). The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action (1929).

There are some strong parallels between Dewey's insistence on the unity of thought and praxis and the Marxist theory of knowledge. Many scholars have drawn attention to the parallels with Mao's On Practice in particular. Dewey visited China, while Mao was a student. The Neo-Pragmatist Philosopher Hilary Putnam was an ex-member of the Progressive Labor Party, and when asked in an interview about the influence of Lenin of Philosophy of Science, he said that he did not consider Empirocriticism to be a good work of philosophy, but was more impressed by Mao's On Practice, and claimed that Mao had been influenced by Dewey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MquP2kIvsMQ

The parallels are not purely epistemological, because Dewey also goes into the ways in which metaphysics is based on the social class system of an elite of idle intellectuals who denigrate the work of the slaves.
Kamran Heiss
Soviet cogitations: 5
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 12:02
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 16 Jul 2014, 14:02
Naoimi Klein - No Logo
Lenin - April Thesis
Maurice Meisner - Mao's China and After
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Soviet cogitations: 37
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 11:33
Pioneer
Post 16 Jul 2014, 19:18
"Another View of Stalin" - Ludo Martens
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Soviet cogitations: 37
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 11:33
Pioneer
Post 19 Jul 2014, 22:10
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2004, 21:17
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Bureaucrat
Post 26 Jul 2014, 23:13
I just received my copy of Communism: Basic Writings compiled by Anne Fremantle. It's an old, pulp-fiction style out of pring book, but it's chock full of essential writings on Communism.

http://books.google.com/books/about/Com ... cmQwAACAAJ

The table of contents is as follows:

I CLASSICAL COMMUNISM
The Communist Manifesto - Marx/Engels
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific - Engels
The ABC of Communism - Bukharin
What Is To Be Done - Lenin
Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism - Lenin
The Withering Away of the State - Stalin
Critique of the Gotha Programme - Marx
The Social System of Capitalism - Marx
Capitalism and Human Alienation - Marx
On the History of Early Christianity - Engels
Religion - The Great Soviet Encyclopedia
Profession of Materialistic Faith - Thorez
Idealism of the Communists - Thorez

II MARX AND HISTORY
The Materialist Conception of History - Marx/Engels
Hsitory and Class Consciousness - Lukacs
The Rise of the Middle Class - Engels
Thomas Muenzer - Bloch
The Fall of Natural Man - Diderot
The History of Babeuf's Conspiracy - Buonarroti
What is Property? - Proudhon

III REVISIONIST COMMUNISM
Marxism, Freedom, and the State - Bakunin
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat - Kautsky
Fundamental Problems of Marxism - Plekhanov
Anarchist Doctrine - Plekhanov
Reform or Revolution - Luxembourg
Manifest of th Russian Social Democratic Labor Party - Struve
Terrorism and Communism - Trotsky
The Modern Prince - Gramsci
Excerpts from Mao Tse-Tung's Writings - Mao

IV CONTEMPORARY COMMUNISM
On Revolution - Ho Chi Minh
On Humanism - Marcuse
Interview - Marcuse
The New Class - Djilas
Twentieth Century Marxism - Garaudy
Wretched of the Earth - Fanon
La Historia Me Absolvera, Speech In Court - Castro
Speech on Education at the University of Havana - Castro
Notes for the Study of the Ideology of the Cuban Revolution - Che
The Concept of the Left - Kolakowski
Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative - Cohn-Bendit
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 27 Jul 2014, 07:15
Wow. That's an impressive list.

I've just bought:

Marx/Engels - Revolution in Spain
Kurt Heinzelman - The economy of the imagination
David Cooper - Death of the Family

I have yet to begin reading them.
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Soviet cogitations: 2507
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2004, 21:17
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Bureaucrat
Post 28 Jul 2014, 21:05
I just found this at the bookstore:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/capital ... 0674430006

Quote:
What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.

A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.


Wondering if I should pick it up. Has anyone looked into it?
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Soviet cogitations: 237
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 21:53
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 28 Jul 2014, 21:16
Quote:
Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx.


Is him forgotting the effect Marx itself had on history of such countries ? You cannot put development of the social protection network into the account of capitalism, it was done by the blood of the proletariat, not out of simple consideration by the capitalists.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2004, 21:17
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Bureaucrat
Post 28 Jul 2014, 23:07
AldoBrasil wrote:
Is him forgotting the effect Marx itself had on history of such countries ? You cannot put development of the social protection network into the account of capitalism, it was done by the blood of the proletariat, not out of simple consideration by the capitalists.

Yeah, that one bit made me raise an eyebrow, especially given the disappearance of the middle class that we have been seeing lately.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 29 Jul 2014, 01:47
The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic
It is one of the greatest works of Maoist philosophy produced by Zhang Shiying in 1972. It includes a commentary by Alain Badiou and is free on PDF by the publisher.

http://re-press.org/books/the-rational- ... dialectic/
Kamran Heiss
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Soviet cogitations: 37
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Jul 2014, 11:33
Pioneer
Post 30 Jul 2014, 21:11
Stalinista wrote:
"Another View of Stalin" - Ludo Martens

I'm gonna love this book.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Politburo
Post 06 Aug 2014, 13:44
Freiheits Kämpfer wrote:
I just found this at the bookstore:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/capital ... 0674430006

Wondering if I should pick it up. Has anyone looked into it?


I haven't been able to read it myself, but this book has very briefly caused a storm in western European leftish intellectual circles. I don't know if it sparked the same kind of interest in the US, but it was briefly treated as the holy grail, a new gospel that adequately explains the economic system. He uses a large amount of empirical data (although that has since been called into question by some) to demonstrate the growth in wealth inequality, and that this is inherent to capitalism. He proposes a tax on wealth to save the system and democratic order.

It's not right to critique a book without reading it, so I'll refrain from commenting on the content until I get around to it. I would recommend buying and reading it critically, if only because it has a certain relevancy recently, and let us know what you think. The easy critique is that Piketty is "not a Marxist", but that's a bit redundant, because he says so himself.

However, it is worth considering why he's surfacing now and why there is such a hype around him now. All factions of bourgeois democracy are scrambling to save the system, one way or another, and Piketty comes from the circles of the French Socialist Party of president Hollande. So on the one hand, he represents an analysis of the economic system, and on the other hand, he represents a certain political program. So it's no wonder that social-democratic parties around Europe are inviting him to speak in parliament, in order to build the case for "stopping the crisis" and saving the system by raising taxes, while avoiding the issue of property.

At this point, I'll defer to a Marxist who has bothered to properly review Piketty's work:

http://philosophersforchange.org/2014/0 ... cal-essay/
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.nl/2014/05/beyo ... ndrum.html
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 10 Oct 2014, 01:58
Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929-1941 ...
By Barbara Foley

http://books.google.com/books?id=VYzEtZ ... &q&f=false

Interesting book on the Proletarian Novels written during the CPUSA's Popular Front period. I was intrigued by the influence of Hemingway on Proletarian Realism. And the impact on Richard Wright, Steinbeck, and Dashiell Hammett.
Kamran Heiss
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Soviet cogitations: 796
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Komsomol
Post 29 Oct 2014, 18:38
Africa's Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania

Quote:
The TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority), or Freedom Railway, from Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian coast to the Copperbelt region of Zambia, was instrumental in fostering one of the most sweeping development transitions in postcolonial Africa. Built during the height of the Cold War, the railway was intended to redirect the mineral wealth of the interior away from routes through South Africa and Rhodesia. Rebuffed by Western aid agencies, newly independent Tanzania and Zambia accepted help from China to construct what would become one of Africa's most vital transportation corridors. The book follows the railroad from design and construction to its daily use as a vital means for moving villagers and goods. It tells a story of how transnational interests contributed to environmental change, population movements, and the rise of local and regional enterprise.


http://books.google.com/books?id=xeeDwc ... il&f=false
Kamran Heiss
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