You might have picked up a copy of the Communist Manifesto, one that doesn’t have any footnotes (at least not from anybody other than Marx and Engels themselves) and been like, “who the hell are all these people they are referring to? None of this seems relevant to me. I have a smartphone!”
Well, those people were important movers and shakers, and you’d be wrong about thinking that we can’t draw any important conclusions about how to organize for socialism in the 21st century by learning from the mistakes of the past.
But so what? Going back and researching who those people are is boring. And unless you are a total nerd who knows all about pop culture references of the mid-1800s, you’re not going to get any of the jokes or understand any of the sick burns that Marx and Engels make against the politicians and theorists of their time. And your smartphone is pretty neat [and maybe you could use it to look up those references you don’t understand, eh?]
But seriously though, none of that means that the fundamental principles of a Marxism are any less valid today. It’s a valuable thing to understand what Marx was getting at.
“But reading this boring old pamphlet is so boring!” you might say.
And you’re right. While worthwhile, reading the Manifesto, even though isn’t only a couple dozen pages long, is still kind of a slog.
Enter, Socialism… seriously: a brief guide to human liberation by Danny Katch.
Whether this was his intent or not, Katch manages to update the basic message of the Communist Manifesto (capitalism is terrible, here’s why, and here’s how to change it), and puts it in easy to understand language that’s readily accessible to just about anybody today.
And not only that, it’s funny. Like, really funny. Well, okay, it’s not all funny, some parts are deadly serious, but then, so is the situation we find ourselves in right now, with a dying biosphere, bigoted cheeto for a president, and not much hope being offered from the Democratic Party (who are also a capitalist party, and have many of the same donors as the GOP).
Socialism… seriously lights the way, and brightens the mood, which is much needed in these dark times.