The Idea of Communism, by Tariq Ali

17 02 2010

It’s been a really long time since I’ve written a book review and I just finished reading this book, so I thought what better time to write a review.  I understand my reviews don’t follow the standard format.  I’m really just doing this to get the word out there.  To pass on some information.  I try to read as much as I can, but don’t do it as much as I would like.  I was just in San Francisco and happened to stop by a bookstore that I like.  I had been there a few times when I was living in the SF Bay Area.  I happen to be in the neighborhood and decided to stop in.  The place is called Dog Eared Books.  It’s a really cool place, that I like.  It’s pretty small, but has a big enough selection on history, politics and other social sciences to keep me interested.  I think if it was too big I would just wander around too much.  The other cool thing is that they have used books and some are almost new, but for a discounted price.

So anyways, I was in the place and ended up buying three books that I haven’t read.  I will write more on those when I finish reading them.  I read this one first, because it was the smallest one of the three and because I’m most interested in the subject.

I feel like I have heard of the author, Tariq Ali before, but have never read any of his work.  The cover artwork and subject is what first drew my attention to the book.  It is a wonderful book to handle if you ever see it.  It’s a small hard cover book with great cover art.  It was interesting because you could fit it in your back pocket and take it with you with no problems.  The problem with that is the text is so damn small.  So you gotta have good lighting when reading this book.

To be honest, I was disappointed with the book.  If your looking to learn about communism, this is not the book for you.  According to the author this was an essay that a publisher insisted he write on the subject.  So it’s not an explanatory text.  I was hoping I could come away with a deeper understanding of Communism and Marxism and that wasn’t the case.  This text is designed more for the person who already knows a lot about Marxism and Communism.  It gets more into the history and geopolitics of Communism.  He gives more of his insights into how and why Communism transpired the way it did in Europe and China.  He touches on Latin America.  I didn’t really get too much out of this book.  Perhaps if I knew more about the history and geopolitics of European communism than I would have enjoyed this book more.

Again, not for the beginner.  If you are interested in learning more about communism, socialism and/or Marxism there are plenty of other text and websites out there.

One of my favorites is by Marx for beginners by Ruis.  O.k. so it’s illustrated, but it’s for beginners, so it’s not intimidating and it’s fun to read.  What better way to start off learning about a subject.  There is always the PSL page also, we have short articles on various subjects and answers to many questions about socialism.  Just click on the following link Marxism 101