Five books that made me a revolutionary when I was young

Peter Green

Peter Green has written numerous articles and pamphlets and is an active NATFHE member

 

If its five books that 'every socialist should read' I challenge the concept. What you should read depends on where you are coming from.....so one person should definitely read the Victor Serge, below, but I might make Marx's Capital Volume 1 the priority for someone else! So I wasn't going to contribute but then decided I could do '5 books that made me a revolutionary  socialist  when I was young' . Anyway that's my heading (I don't care if I'm disqualified as a result) 

 

George Jackson - Soledad Brother - it woke me up to the racism of the contemporary US state and in a series of letters to Angela Davis and others records  a political education inside prison - and then he was murdered! 

Rosa Luxemburg The Mass Strike  - simply brilliant on the revolutionary  potential of collective action and the spill over from the economic to the political but her Junius pamphlet denouncing the 1914-19 war runs it close  

George Orwell Homage to Catalonia - just an inspirational read - a glimpse of how ordinary unpretentious people can suddenly be transformed into heroes and heroines    

Noam Chomsky  American Power and the New Mandarins - a  denunciation of 'intellectuals' who mortgage their brains to imperial power  plus an expose of Stalinism and its role in the Spanish Civil War - a mindblowing juxtaposition when I was about 20)    

Victor Serge : Memoirs of a Revolutionary - or how to be a libertarian Bolshevik,  survive the Gulag, have ferocious rows with Trotsky but retain respect for him and write some of the great political fiction of the 20th century (Comrade Tulayev in particular) with a wonderful preface by the sadly missed Peter Sedgwick as a bonus    - and Catch 22 might have made it too  but if I started on literature I wouldn't know where to stop.... and Eamonn McCann's War and an Irish Town ought to be in there as well ... but there's no space left...   

 

 

 

Feb 2006

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