Bookmarks, the 'radical' London bookseller, has a new catalogue out. Some of its listings will make entertaining reading, as long as they are not taken too seriously.
Bookmarks is a self-styled radical bookshop. Located just around the corner from the British Museum which used to house the British Library, it is literally a stone's throw from where one of its heroes, Karl Marx, slaved away at his anti-capitalist polemic Das Kapital, ably assisted by his extremely wealthy chum Friedrich Engels.
Recently, Bookmarks published a new catalogue, a somewhat eclectic mix. Included therein is Leon Trotsky: Writings in exile, which is described as "A selection of Trotsky's pamphlets and articles intervening in the struggles against Stalinism and for a united front against fascism".
A photograph of the seat used by Karl Marx. Taken by Alexander Baron c1991.
Anyone wanna bet that he left out that bit about shooting workers like ducks in a pond? Not to mention about being bankrolled by Wall Street. One of the great myths of Communism is that there was any such thing as Stalinism. After the death of Lenin, there was a power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, which Stalin won. Stalin's idea of Communism was more practical, although the Russian people paid a terrible price; Trotsky on the other hand peddled some pie in the sky idea of world revolution, but there can be no doubt that if he had triumphed over Stalin, the course of history would have been just as bloody, and very likely Stalin would have been murdered in exile by a Trotskyist agent instead of vice versa.
If you want to fork out £11.00 you can buy a book by Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right. Obviously even Karl Marx wasn't wrong about absolutely everything. Was he right about this, one wonders?
"Ramsgate is full of Jews and fleas." (MEKOR IV, 490, August 25, 1879) - this is cited by an impeccably socialist source, that goes to incredible lengths to exculpate Marx from the charge of anti-Semitism. And fails miserably. In his 1979 book Karl Marx: Racist, the American Libertarian Nathaniel Weyl points out that: "Strangely enough, the so-called secret conversations of Adolf Hitler are less suffused with hatred and destruction than Marx's contributions to the Marx-Engels correspondence".
What might he have been right about? Usury? Hardly mentioned in Das Kapital. Business franchising? Nope, he didn't foresee that at all. Gay lib? Hmm, whatever his faults, Marx was emphatically heterosexual. Unfortunately, although he was all man, he was not much of father, and an unfaithful husband to boot:
"He married a baroness, Jenny, who loved him and was devoted to him...The couple moved to London, where they managed to stay for almost thirty years. They had six children and Marx fathered a child with a mistress during that time. The Marx family lived in dire and abject poverty. Only once did he attempt to find regular gainful employment (as a clerk in a railway office) but was turned down because of his illegible handwriting...While he toiled for the betterment of mankind, his own children suffered. They were badly in debt and did not always have a roof over their heads. Three of his children died from malnutrition or lack of proper care. When one of them died, he had no money to pay for a coffin until a fellow refugee came to his rescue".
That probably won't go down too well with wimmin's lib, either, but there's more to Marxism than Marx, how about Jailhouse Lawyers by Mumia Abu-Jamal?
"After 30 years on death row Abu-Jamal faces life without parole".
And they expect people to take legal advice from this guy?
In his 1984 book CIVIL RIGHTS: Rhetoric or Reality? Thomas Sowell points out: "Someone once said that an idea which fails repeatedly may possibly be wrong. It is by no means clear that the supporters of affirmative action are prepared to go that far".
Affirmative action has been around only since the 1960s; socialism has been around a great deal longer, has failed more often, and more convincingly. Alas, there will still be people who are willing to fork out good money for the books in this catalogue, but if you agree with Sowell that an idea that fails again and again is indeed wrong, hopefully, you won't be one of them.
Bookmarks also stocks a wide selection of radical magazines, though not, curiously, Searchlight. If you want to know why, perhaps you should ask their libel lawyers.