Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ian Birchall - A Rebel's Guide to Lenin

I am pretty sure that there used to be a series of collected works by Lenin, called the "Little Lenin Library", though whether this was because of the physical size of the works, or the particular shortness of the articles chosen I have no idea. It certainly wasn't because they were aimed at children.

However, Ian Birchall's introduction to Lenin would certainly fit the description of "little". It's only fifty odd pages long, and a few inches in size. But in its small size, it covers a huge amount of ground and packs a hefty punch. This introduction is aimed at introducing a new layer of radicals to Lenin's thought and practice. Particularly those radicalised by the Stop the War movement and more recently the protests against the G8.

As such, Ian takes up some of the challenges thrown at Lenin within that movement - his supposed authoritarianism for instance. In this it is particularly good (well as good as you can taking up complex arguments in 50 pages). The work can only succeed in this - and at explaining Lenin's thought - by placing him in the context of the times he was active in, something particularly important with Lenin's work as he often wrote for the moment.

Birchall in no way looks at Lenin as some fountain of all knowledge. But nor is this a book full of gossip and slander at Lenin. Ian argues that there is nothing more important than building socialist organisation in the here and now and that Lenin can and must be a guide to this. This is a brilliant introduction to why and how. Don't be put off by its length.

Related Reviews

Bambery - A Rebel's Guide to Gramsci
Choonara - A Rebel's Guide to Trotsky
Orr - A Rebel's Guide to Women's Liberation
Gonzalez - A Rebel's Guide to Marx 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was due to the short stature of the author, V. I. "Short Stuff" Lenin.