The Point is to Change It

150px-The_point_is_to_change_itI have always bought more books than I read, which has resulted in a bookshelf of unread books that I call book mountain. It is currently the smallest it’s ever been. Still some of the books on there have been in my possession for some time. Such as The Point is to Change It which I must have bought fifteen years ago.

Compiled from essays and articles first published in Living Marxism, this book examines trends in political life in the aftermath of the death of history. With the Berlin Wall down and the Soviet Block collapsed, how does the left respond to capitalism? The book was published in 1996 and, twenty years on, the world it talks about is depressingly similar to the one we currently live in. I can’t help but agree that the world needs to change.

The tone of the book and some of the things that are conflated with social ills didn’t sit well with me. It’s presented as progressive and as suggesting solutions to the problems of capitalism. It doesn’t really do that. There’s a thick seam of nostalgia for some idyllic past when we didn’t waste our time with the women and blacks getting upset about trivial things, when we weren’t so soft, and valued self-confidence over victimhood. There’s a lot of privilege and entitlement in that kind of nostalgia. The values extolled are very much those attributed to white, straight men and denied to others. And there are no real solutions to speak of. There’s a manifesto at the back. It’s two pages out of two hundred and seventeen. It is mostly a rehash of the problems and lacks any call to action. Even if you did agree with the analysis (and there’s much in there that I do agree with once you detach it from the whining), you’d be hard pressed to know what to do about it.

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