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What Was Communism?

What Was Communism?

We sure as hell ain’t sure… but they’re contemplating the question big time at Kolkata’s Seagull Books.  (That’s Calcutta to you!)  Specifically, they’re wondering why it’s so abruptly gone by the boards — and whether that implies the death of the associated ideals.

Seven volumes in Seagull’s “What Was Communism” series examine the overall mystery, and the individual circumstances in six countries:  the USSR, Yugoslavia, China, Cuba, Indonesia and India.  The writers (Tariq Ali, Boris Kagarlitsky, Slavenka Drakulic, Mo Yan, Piero Gleijeses, Max Lane and Mahasweta Devi) wonder if the idea of communism has really been so thoroughly discredited that nothing is to be learned from it — and ponder these specific cases for answers, or at least for deeper questions.

Series editor Ali muses, “The Communist system lasted 70 years and failed only once. Capitalism has existed for over half a millennium and failed regularly. Why is one collapse considered final and the other episodic?”

With the chaos that is global capitalism these days, and manifestations among the young and the restless of their persistent desire for a vibrant commons, we at Bird & Beckett have to wonder if there are lessons to be learned, and think it worthwhile to look back while looking forward.

We’re not immune to the book designer’s stunning work on these titles either!

Here’s to Seagull Books and West Bengal’s thriving intellectual and creative environment.

Come into the shop to browse these titles — and anything else that catches your eye…  or click here to buy them in our online shop…


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