New opportunities to buy left books


By Jon Singer Although news of the "death of Communism" is greatly exaggerated (only Stalinism is on the skids), there has been a crisis of confidence in socialism among many on the left. Among the many temporarily debilitating results has been the decline in the number of good radical books, magazines and journals being published, and in the availability of those publications through bookshops and mail order services. Many left bookshops — including the International Bookshop, a valued institution on the Melbourne left, and the Socialist Party's New Era bookshops — closed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A 1987 initiative of the dissolving Communist Party, the Left Book Club, is winding down operations following years of financial losses, with only one title left on its schedule for publication (Wendy Lowenstein's What's Working, expected this year). Resistance Bookshops are stepping into the breach. They are operated by Resistance and the Democratic Socialist Party and sited at the Resistance Centres in all capital cities, Newcastle and Wollongong (addresses on page 2). Increasing resources are being devoted to building these up as the sole general new-book left bookshops in Australia. The Sydney Resistance Bookshop has joined its Melbourne counterpart in opening full time (its hours are Monday to Saturday, 11am-6.30pm). Other bookshops have also established regular opening hours. Weekly bookstalls and major book sales will be held on many campuses this year. Booknews, a monthly national newsletter of the Resistance bookshop, provides brief reviews of new titles, news of special offers and a free-post mail order on all stock. This is being distributed with Green Left Weekly subscriptions. Efforts are also being devoted to extending stock in the bookshops, with: more new titles; discounted and second-hand books, including all the back stock of Left Book Club titles (see advertisement this page); hard-to-get classic titles and collections of works of Marx and Engels and Lenin, being obtained from overseas. In the next few months a look at your city's Resistance Bookshop (or making use of the mail order service) could help to revive or satisfy a craving for good left literature.