book for review

george snedeker

Socialism and Democracy is looking for someone to review the following book:

A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto

by China Miéville.



Here is the publisher’s blurb:


China Miéville's riveting engagement with the Communist Manifesto offers a lyrical introduction and a spirited defense of the modern world's most influential political document.


Few written works can so confidently claim to have shaped the course of history as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Manifesto of the Communist Party. Since first rattling the gates of the ruling order in 1848, this incendiary pamphlet has never ceased providing fuel for the fire in the hearts of those who dream of a better world. Nor has it stopped haunting the nightmares of those who sit atop the vastly unequal social system it condemns.


In his strikingly imaginative discussion , China Miéville provides readers with a guide to understanding the Manifesto and the many specters it has conjured. Through his unique and unorthodox reading, Miéville offers a spirited defense of the enduring relevance of Marx and Engels’ ideas.


Write to me at george.snedeker@... if you would like to review this book.


Best wishes,


Walter Lippmann <walterlx1944@...>

Clearly Miéville’s goal isn’t merely to provide an introduction to Marx and Engels’s remarkable little pamphlet. Rather, he seeks to unify a demoralized, disarrayed left that wants badly to stand athwart the looming crises of environmental collapse, rampant inequality, rising authoritarianism and, now, nuclear Armageddon. Ultimately, “A Spectre, Haunting” is Miéville’s case against leftist factionalism. He wants to show how differences might be synthesized into a powerful movement without its various members having to compromise on their priorities. His final chapter, on revolutionary hatred and revolutionary love, urges readers to cultivate “comfort with contradiction,” to abandon ideological certainty in favor of “a ‘band’ or ‘zone’ of reasonable understandings and approaches” and, finally, to “hate harder than did the ‘Manifesto,’ for the sake of humanity.” As he explains: “Who would we be not to hate this system, and its partisans? If we don’t, the hate of those who hate on its behalf will not ebb.”

As a call to arms, though, “A Spectre, Haunting” is drier and more cerebral than the “Manifesto” itself. In form, it belongs to the long, leftist debate over revolutionary action, a debate that has become all the more urgent as capitalism threatens to roast and flood our world, if it doesn’t incinerate it in a radioactive cloud first. For readers who have followed this debate, “A Spectre, Haunting” will be revelatory and dazzling, as Miéville finds commonalities among ostensibly incompatible positions and solidarity amid divisions. His “Communist Manifesto” is the inspiration for a very big tent, one where class and race, gender, ability, sexuality and origins are all part of a single revolutionary movement, not ceding priority to one another, but insisting that no liberation worth its name would exclude any of these elements. It’s an appealing, if challenging, vision, and my copy of “A Spectre, Haunting” is already dog-eared and underlined, the hallmarks of a book that demands revisiting.

Cory Doctorow is the author of more than 20 books, including many science fiction novels, young adult books and works of nonfiction. His latest book, co-authored by Rebecca Giblin, is “Chokepoint Capitalism.”