Saturday, February 04, 2006

Left-wing publishing choices

Verso is a leading radical publisher, the successor to the old NLB (New Left Books). NLB pioneered the publication of the great works of European Marxism in English. It has just published a collection of the statements of Osama bin Laden. I suppose there is some use in having a collection of these statements available, and I will look at the book, as I have to teach about religious fundamentalism in AIP 116 Modern Political Ideologies at Warrnambool. There are some interesting comments on the book at Spiked (better than their usual by-the-numbers libertarianism) and it has inspired reading groups. Fiona Capp in today's Age calls bin Laden's arguments 'rational, elegantly composed polemic'. It seems to be more a case of how the far right plunders the language of the left for its own purposes as Franz Neumann argued in the brilliant Behemoth. But I have to feel that the publication of bin Laden's works by Verso says something about some aspects of 'the left'. In 1970 NLB published Armed Insurrection a translation (by Quintin Hoare who now keeps different company than some in Verso) of a Comintern manual, but now the street-fighting days of the 1970s are long past and now there are other political models for the disaffected. Not progress to me.


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