Monday, May 21, 2007
Mike Gonzalez - Rebel's Guide To Marx
Mike Gonzalez's contribution to the excellent "Rebel's Guide" series must have been the hardest to even consider. How do you compress the life, times and political thought of one of the world's most important and influential philosophers into a book of less than 50 pages?
I have to say that Gonzalez does well. There are many more indepth and longer biographies of Marx - and the author hasn't tried to out do them, rather he's tried to draw out the key strands of Marx's thought and put them beside a description of how Marx develops politically. Starting from Marx's early student days, Gonzalez looks at how the radicals of the time where starting to view society and life as being based on material realities, he then charts Marx's development along the route of historical materialism.
Gonzalez never pretends Marx was simply a philosopher. Quoting Marx's famous comment "The philosophers have merely interpreted the world... the point is to change it", Gonzalez shows us a Marx immersed in the radical activities of the time, helping to instigate the First International and attending meetings of the International Working Men's association. Much of Marx's writings come of out these activities - The Communist Manifesto being the best example. But Gonzalez also shows us how Marx's examination of the Paris Commune helps him develop his theories of the state and political organisation.
Ultimately there is much that must be left out. But this is as close to the best short introduction to Karl Marx and his ideas that you can get and Gonzalez gives plenty of other suggestions for further reading.
Choonara - A Rebel's Guide to Trotsky
Bambery - A Rebel's Guide to Gramsci
Birchall - A Rebel's Guide to Lenin