Wm. Paul

Book Review

Untitled Review of The A.B.C. of Communism

Source: Communist Review, June 1922, Vol. 3, No. 2.
Publisher: Communist Party Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The A.B.C. of Communism
By N. Buharin and E. Preobrazhensky.
Translated from the Russian by Eden and Cedar Paul.
422 pages. 3s. paper covers. 6s. cloth covers.
Communist Party, 16, King Street, London, W.C. 2.

THE publication of this book has been awaited with great interest. It is nothing more or less, as the title indicates, than a popular encyclopædia of Communism. The volume is divided into two parts; one deals with Communist theory and the other with the practical implications of the proletarian revolution. Beginning with an outline on the Communist Party programme, the book gives a brilliant outline of Marxian Economics which is dealt with in the most elementary language. The opening chapters would make an admirable reading lesson for groups entering upon a study of Economics.

Having analysed the essence of capitalism the authors pass on to a detailed examination regarding the upbuilding of Communism. This will be of the utmost importance to British readers. We cannot know too much of the experiences of the Russian revolution. We cannot spend too much time studying the trials and struggles of the Russian masses to build up the Soviet Republic. The Russian revolution has been one of the greatest happenings in history, and it behoves us to watch how the Soviets came into being and how they carried out their various functions during the intense moments of revolutionary crisis.

Before the revolutionary days of 1917 the Communist movement was based upon a series of theoretical assumptions which had never been tested by concrete experiences. The supreme value, therefore, of the A.B.C. is that the larger part of it deals with the practical problems which naturally arise in the destruction of the political power of the propertied class. Here we read of the actual and every day happenings of the revolution in its historic task of stamping out the old and creating the new. How far off seem the old days when the various aspects of the social revolution were set forth, theoretically, in a pamphlet or on a blackboard? We are now in a new world. Communism no longer means a series of conclusions based upon certain theoretical concepts; it has now become a definite policy in practice, it has descended from the sky of speculation and has become something of this earth earthy.

Step by step the authors show the need for the conquest of All Power by the masses. Never before has the reason for the dictatorship of the proletariat been so clearly and so convincingly stated. It is shown why a parliamentary government cannot emancipate the workers and why the Soviets not only embody the class-might of the masses but also supply the machinery for conducting the work of reconstructing the new social order. Problems of nationality, military organisation, education, religion, hygiene, etc., are faced and dealt with. The importance of industrial and agricultural organisation is examined in detail.

It is impossible to give any adequate idea of the scope of this great work. One might as well attempt to sum up the contents of the “Encyclopædia Britannica” in a short article as attempt to set forth the detailed contents of the A.B.C. in a brief review. We can only urge our readers to buy the book and read it for themselves. It should be made a standing rule in the Party for every member to read the A.B.C. and for every branch to discuss it. It is the largest and most important book yet published by the Communist Party. It is well printed in good large round type, and as it contains 427 pages it is the best 3s. book at present before the reading public. The translation has been splendidly done by Eden and Cedar Paul, who have also prepared a good index and a bibliography.

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W. P.