A Spectre, Haunting

On the Communist Manifesto

Hardcover, 320 pages

English language

Published March 25, 2022 by Head of Zeus.

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5 stars (3 reviews)

In 1848 a strange political tract was published by two émigrés from Germany. Marx and Engels's apocalyptic vision of an insatiable system that penetrates every corner of the world, reduces every relationship to that of profit, and bursts asunder the old forms of production and of politics, is still a picture of a recognizable world, our world, and the vampiric energy of the system is once again highly contentious.

The Manifesto is a text that shows no sign of fading into antiquarian obscurity. Its ideas animate in different ways the work of writers like Yanis Varoufakis, Adam Tooze, Naomi Klein and the journalist Owen Jones.

China Miéville is not a writer who has been hemmed in by conventional notions of expertise or genre, and this is a strikingly imaginative take on Marx and what his most haunting book has to say to us today.

This is a book haunted by …

2 editions

Miéville lending his powers of rich, deep, but accessible writing to an introduction to communism (and the Manifesto).

5 stars

Miéville has an absurd talent in leading the reader through difficult, (in his fiction, typically surreal) terrain, but keeping them not only interested but invested.

He plied the same trade with his novelised history of the Russian revolution, in "October". Here, a commentary and introduction to Marx & Engel's seminal Manifesto. It's a relatively brief tour through various aspects of the text - the genre of manifesto, common criticisms and their weaknesses, stronger criticisms and weaknesses in the text. I'm left with a much more nuanced, rich, and inspiring notion of communism than I had (I didn't know much), but without any sense of naivete about work, effort, or vigilance involved in it.

If you are at all curious, and certainly if you're invested in social justice, and the problems of contemporary society, it is highly recommended.

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5 stars