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A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto

por China Miéville

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1604171,532 (4.13)8
China Miéville's riveting engagement with the Communist Manifesto offers a lyrical introduction and a spirited defense of the modern world's most influential political document. Few written works can so confidently claim to have shaped the course of history as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Manifesto of the Communist Party. Since first rattling the gates of the ruling order in 1848, this incendiary pamphlet has never ceased providing fuel for the fire in the hearts of those who dream of a better world. Nor has it stopped haunting the nightmares of those who sit atop the vastly unequal social system it condemns. In this strikingly imaginative introduction, China Miéville provides readers with a guide to understanding the Manifesto and the many specters it has conjured. Through his unique and unorthodox reading, Miéville offers a spirited defense of the enduring relevance of Marx and Engels' ideas. Presented along with the full text of the Communist Manifesto, Miéville's guide has something to offer first-time readers, revolutionary partisans, and even the most hard-nosed skeptics.… (mais)
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Very good discussion of the communist manifesto. The been includes The manifesto which was great fun to read and then go through Miéville’s examination. Excellent book.
  BookyMaven | Mar 9, 2024 |
Great primer to help you understand the Communist Manifesto, especially the artistic and rhetorical techniques used in the genre of manifestos. ( )
1 vote Afriendlyhorse | Jan 23, 2024 |
A scholarly exegesis of the Communist Manifesto, including that entire work as an appendix. The book examines the historical origins and criticisms of the Communist Manifesto, and its influence today on left-wing politics. I found it a bit dry and hard going at times, but dense with references and insights. ( )
  questbird | Oct 2, 2023 |
Having achieved a fair measure of success with his examination of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in October, China Miéville has continued this theme with a detailed look at The Communist Manifesto. He sets it in its historical period; works through the Manifesto paragraph by paragraph, explaining each part's relevance and interpretation; gives his own evaluation of it; addresses criticisms of it; and finally gives his own personal reaction to how he sees The Communist Manifesto reading today. The Manifesto is published in full, as an appendix, together with various prefaces to different editions.

This is not an easy book. Miéville is thoroughly steeped in Marxist analysis and lore, and spares the reader none of the depth of his knowledge in this field. However, as we progress through the book, the language does get easier, and by the last chapter, the tone is almost conversational (at least, in contrast to what has gone before). Having said that, it is worth wading through the full text, as from time to time he relaxes the strict Marxian analysis and imparts some key points clearly and directly.

Throughout, there is a sense of Miéville challenging us to consider whether Marxism is a religion or not. It certainly has many of the features - key figures who had an important Message that set out how people should live, and a series of texts that initiates are supposed to know and follow. But Marx's analysis of the nature of human economic activity is firmly based in the real world; even those who reject Marx's ideal of how the world needs to change accept the description of that world. The world is divided into two classes: those who own the means of production, and those who have to produce something to sell, using either their hands or their brains. Everything else is just argument and counter-argument. Many of those arguments are made from a position of ignorance or misdirection. That the establishment still feels it necessary to denigrate and undermine those who take Marx's analysis and solution seriously shows what power there is in its message. Miéville's personal commitment is clear from this book; there are many others like him.

This is not to say that Miéville is uncritical of both the Manifesto and those who have claimed to follow it. Since the Manifesto was first published in 1848, the world has changed; the interpretation of the Manifesto has to take this into account. Marx and his co-author Friedrich Engels never lived to see any attempt made to bring about the sort of revolution described in the Manifesto; history shows us that any attempt to translate a set of principles laid down in a book into practical governance and political power never results in the objectives the work's authors aspired to being achieved. Does that mean that the messages in that book are invalid? Devout Christians, Moslems or Jews would say not, and their assertions are not frequently challenged. This is another area that Marxism has in common with a religion (except for the bit about the challenges).

In the first quarter of the 21st Century, there are many who are challenging the status quo of untrammelled capitalism, the primacy of maximising shareholder value, and treating workers as so many units of production, to be exploited or discarded according to the demands of the market. Many still hold to that world-view; many more do not. Of those who do not, a vast number have never read The Communist Manifesto, but are searching for something better than their present conditions. The Manifesto may not have all the answers; but it at least examines the problem. China Miéville has attempted to add to that examination and show where The Communist Manifesto can help point to some solutions. It should not be rejected just because some of the messages make some powerful people feel uneasy. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Aug 6, 2022 |
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China Miéville's riveting engagement with the Communist Manifesto offers a lyrical introduction and a spirited defense of the modern world's most influential political document. Few written works can so confidently claim to have shaped the course of history as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Manifesto of the Communist Party. Since first rattling the gates of the ruling order in 1848, this incendiary pamphlet has never ceased providing fuel for the fire in the hearts of those who dream of a better world. Nor has it stopped haunting the nightmares of those who sit atop the vastly unequal social system it condemns. In this strikingly imaginative introduction, China Miéville provides readers with a guide to understanding the Manifesto and the many specters it has conjured. Through his unique and unorthodox reading, Miéville offers a spirited defense of the enduring relevance of Marx and Engels' ideas. Presented along with the full text of the Communist Manifesto, Miéville's guide has something to offer first-time readers, revolutionary partisans, and even the most hard-nosed skeptics.

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