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To say that socialism doesn t work is to overlook the fact that it did In Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Mongolia, North Korea, and Cuba, revolutionary communism created a life for the mass of people that was far better than the wretched existence they had endured under feudal lords, military bosses, foreign colonizers, and Western capitalists The end result was a dramatic improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of people on a scale never before or since witnessed in histo To say that socialism doesn t work is to overlook the fact that it did In Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Mongolia, North Korea, and Cuba, revolutionary communism created a life for the mass of people that was far better than the wretched existence they had endured under feudal lords, military bosses, foreign colonizers, and Western capitalists The end result was a dramatic improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of people on a scale never before or since witnessed in history 85 Parenti provides an insightful analysis of left anti communism and how it serves the ruling class, providing a timely but careful, explanation of what communism was and why we get it so wrong on the left Surprisingly disappointing, and I say this as someone who agrees with virtually everything Parenti says in this book The most frustrating aspect of his writing is how infrequently he uses citations He makes a number of great points about both Communism and Capitalism though the latter are mostly truisms any Marxist knows , but he rarely gives one access to further reading A good polemic, but a bit outdated and definitely too schematic I would recommend individual chapters his early ones on Surprisingly disappointing, and I say this as someone who agrees with virtually everything Parenti says in this book The most frustrating aspect of his writing is how infrequently he uses citations He makes a number of great points about both Communism and Capitalism though the latter are mostly truisms any Marxist knows , but he rarely gives one access to further reading A good polemic, but a bit outdated and definitely too schematic I would recommend individual chapters his early ones on the fall of Communism are the best , but not the book as a whole Maybe though my critique has to do with the fact that much of what he states is obvious to me, so maybe that s my problem, but his writing definitely suffers from a number of oversimplifications which would make it easy for any Liberal to dismiss his arguments in a second A great offering by Parenti Written with argumentative clarity and devoid of theoretical jargon, this book responds to both the anti communist left and right I recommend this book as a great foundation for anybody interested in the debate regarding communism s historical merits in opposition to capitalism or anarchism Light reading which packs a punch. While people run to buy Orwell s 1984 in the wake of the re emergence of hard right or fascist power around the world, they would be better served to read Parenti instead This book is essential and since its warnings and prescriptions have gone unheeded for 20 years, it is evenurgently essential today than it was when published. I d recommend this book to all people who consider themselves to be leftists especially to those Fukuyamaist social democrats, who think that capitalism is here to stay and it s the best we ve got and we should just fight for social reforms rather than an entire system change, even though the welfare capitalism has systematically been disintegrated everywhere in the West since the overthrow of socialist countries and even though the economic exploitation of the so called Third World is greater I d recommend this book to all people who consider themselves to be leftists especially to those Fukuyamaist social democrats, who think that capitalism is here to stay and it s the best we ve got and we should just fight for social reforms rather than an entire system change, even though the welfare capitalism has systematically been disintegrated everywhere in the West since the overthrow of socialist countries and even though the economic exploitation of the so called Third World is greater than ever the few rich Western countries extract over 3 trillion dollars a year from the poor countries in the world impoverishing them further and further that s why over 4,5 billion people live in chronic poverty and it s a growing number of people and social democracy can do nothing about that, because it s still the profit driven capitalist system that needs to expand and grow infinitely at the same time absolutely destroying the environment I would also really recommend this book to anarchist comrades, because denouncing Marxist Leninists and socialism that actually existed as a failure or simply totalitarian is just plain false and shooting yourself in the foot as Parenti demonstrates in his book As Parenti himself writes To say that socialism doesn t work is to overlook the fact that it did In Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Mongolia, North Korea, and Cuba, revolutionary communism created a life for the mass of people that was far better than the wretched existence they had endured under feudal lords, military bosses, foreign colonizers, and Western capitalists The end result was a dramatic improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of people on a scale never before or since witnessed in history State socialism transformed desperately poor countries into modernized societies in which everyone had enough food, clothing and shelter where elderly people had secure pensions and where all children and many adults went to school and no one was denied medical attention Some of us from poor families who carry the hidden injuries of class are much impressed by these achievements and are unwilling to dismiss them as merely economistic This book shows very well, backed up by evidence, that capitalism needs fascism to survive and it shows how bad people s lives were before state socialism and how horrible it became after state socialism was overthrown by reactionary and Western capitalist forces surplus deaths estimated at 7,7 million in Russia alone due to the extreme free market reforms in the 1990 s It also offers the best critique on communism at least what I ve read I don t consider myself a Marxist Leninist, however to overlook the accomplishments of ML regimes all through out the 20th century is like burying your head in the sand and ignoring history We should learn about these countries, rather than say some weak ass shit like communism doesn t work Because they who control the past control the future I think that s Orwell, but we ll forgive him for his Red bashing Hard to put down Fascinating discussion of several Cold War angles on the overthrow of communism not to be touched elsewhere Great, short, very readable intro on many points Will be too taboo for some, but raises plenty of fascinating questions for further research. An impassioned defense of Socialism That Actually Existed Socialism pre 1991 that demonstrates that, despite the problems of socialism he calls it communism it is still better than the capitalism that existed and continues to exist in the West and points out how the former socialist states are profoundly worse off after capitalism than they were in socialism I feel like the title of the book is a little misleading, fascism is really only the focus of the first chapter demonstrating how it An impassioned defense of Socialism That Actually Existed Socialism pre 1991 that demonstrates that, despite the problems of socialism he calls it communism it is still better than the capitalism that existed and continues to exist in the West and points out how the former socialist states are profoundly worse off after capitalism than they were in socialism I feel like the title of the book is a little misleading, fascism is really only the focus of the first chapter demonstrating how it isakin to capitalism than communism demolishing the twin totalitarian thesis A good critique of anarchism is in here and of people who criticize the revolutions he calls them pure socialists and how a strong central state is necessary to repel the inevitable counterrevolution He concludes the pure socialists anarchists vision for socialism would likely be how socialism would develop if left to its own devices without interference or worrying about building up a strong military, to rapidly industrialize which helped repel the Nazis , etc There is also a chapter on the explanatory power of Marxism that I thought was good The last chapter was probably the weakest, there are odd jabs at post modernism and using pretty much non existent terms like post deconstructionist , and a random footnote about the Sokal hoax and a jab at cultural studies I feel like there are critiques to be had against post modernism he never elaborates on what this means exactly but implies it as an academic trend that ignores class here, but Parenti belies not only a disdain of leftist theoretical knowledge that isn t Marxism, but an ignorance of it not only that, he seems to have an antipathy towards writing that is jargon ridden and writing for someone beyond the educatory level of a freshman undergraduate which is strange because he uses the term a priori how many working class people would know what that term means Overall, however, this book is clear, accessible, and convincing I think this is a good introductory text to people getting into socialism and a nice antidote to the sickening anticommunism of the left It as be said that the political right and to some extent the centre have it easy They just have to maintain the power they get and prove to be capable rulers For revolutionary leftwing politics to work, you need essentially to cover two bases 1 offer a valid critique of the existing political model and 2 find something viable to replace it While Parenti comes up with some sound reasons about how and why capitalism is and always as been rotten, its wars, bureaucracy, its unfair labour ex It as be said that the political right and to some extent the centre have it easy They just have to maintain the power they get and prove to be capable rulers For revolutionary leftwing politics to work, you need essentially to cover two bases 1 offer a valid critique of the existing political model and 2 find something viable to replace it While Parenti comes up with some sound reasons about how and why capitalism is and always as been rotten, its wars, bureaucracy, its unfair labour exchange system, etc., its the second part thats saddly weak Towards this end he offers up his theory on Siege Socialism , as a counter pole to replace capitalism or offer a reason why existing socialist states should be defended as a gain for by workers Seige Socialism is not an ideal, or a utopia but simply a reality of hostile states encircling a country which is trying to practice socialim, Parenti tells us The beauty of this arguement is that every major crack in the system can be glossed over as a fault of the capitalist imperial powers If only it was so simple Let it be said I have read many defences of the USSR, and Stalinism in general, but this is one of the worst defenses of an existing socialist state Ive read for some time How Parenti manages to go from logically asset stripping capitalism taking account of its errors to defending a society which was nothingthan an ill planned police state is startling Frankly Noam Chomsky might not always be as readable, but it as to be said he has way better politics A must read for anyone with a political interest This work defends Marxism against its most commom criticisms from anti Communists both right and left wing Additionally the work looks at what occurred in the countries that fell to capitalism in the 90s. ^READ KINDLE ⇭ Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism ✐ Blackshirts Reds explores some of the big issues of our time fascism, capitalism, communism, revolution, democracy, and ecology terms often bandied about but seldom explored in the original and exciting way that has become Michael Parenti s trademarkParenti shows how rational fascism renders service to capitalism, how corporate power undermines democracy, and how revolutions are a mass empowerment against the forces of exploitative privilege He also maps out the external and internal forces that destroyed communism, and the disastrous impact of the free market victory on eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union He affirms the relevance of taboo ideologies like Marxism, demonstrating the importance of class analysis in understanding political realities and dealing with the ongoing collision between ecology and global corporatismWritten with lucid and compelling style, this book goes beyond truncated modes of thought, inviting us to entertain iconoclastic views, and to ask why things are as they are It is a bold and entertaining exploration of the epic struggles of yesterday and today A penetrating and persuasive writer with an astonishing array of documentation to implement his attacks The Catholic JournalistBlackshirts Reds discusses the great combat between fascism and socialism that is the defining feature of the Twentieth Century, and takes every official version to task for its substitution of moral analysis for critical analysis, for its selectivity, and for its errata By portraying the struggle between fascism and Communism in this century as a single conflict, and not a series of discrete encounters, between the insatiable need for new capital on the one hand and the survival of a system under siege on the other, Parenti defines fascism as the weapon of capitalism, not simply an extreme form of it Fascism is not an aberration, he points out, but a rational and integral component of the system Stan Goff, The PrismMichael Parenti, PhD Yale, is an internationally known author and lecturer He is one of the nation s leadiing progressive political analysts He is the author of overpublished articles and twenty books His writings are published in popular periodicals, scholarly journals, and his op ed pieces have been in leading newspapers such as The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times His informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad