By Dave Holmes
Resistance Books, the publishing house associated with Resistance and the Democratic Socialist Party, has completed its most successful year to date. With 1999 not yet over, it has brought out 14 titles — eight books and six pamphlets. Combined with the results of the previous two years — 15 new titles and reprints — this adds up to a considerable effort for a small left-wing venture.
As its publicity puts it, Resistance Books "specialises in books and pamphlets of interest to the anti-racist, environmental, feminist, international solidarity, labour, socialist and other progressive movements". Its output ranges from pamphlets taking up topical issues to books dealing with Marxist theory and problems of socialism, from reprints of the Marxist classics to documents of the DSP.
Apart from reprints, our 1999 publishing year included the launch of the Resistance Marxist Library series of contemporary editions of some of the classic works of Marxism. Titles in the series so far include The Communist Manifesto & Its Relevance for Today by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Leon Trotsky; Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels; three works by V. I. Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 'Left-Wing' Communism — An Infantile Disorder and The State and Revolution; and The Transitional Program and the Struggle for Socialism by Trotsky.
These all have major introductions by DSP National Executive member Doug Lorimer putting the works in their historical and political context, appendices with additional relevant material and notes and glossaries explaining various historical and political references.
Another recent addition to the series is Socialism on Trial by James P. Cannon, the founder of Trotskyism in the US. The book focuses on the 1941 Minneapolis "sedition" trial, the most famous civil liberties case of the wartime years. Of particular note is Cannon's verbatim courtroom testimony, in which he gives a clear and inspiring exposition of Marxist politics — as well as his subsequent defence of it against ultra-left critics.
After a long gestation period, the DSP's environment document has just been published as a 212-page book, Environment, Capitalism and Socialism. Editor Dick Nichols provides a lengthy introduction as well as an appendix containing a comprehensive critique of so-called "green taxation", often promoted as the solution to the environmental crisis.
Also recently published is Doug Lorimer's Fundamentals of Historical Materialism: The Marxist View of History and Politics, a clear and concise presentation of how society has developed and how it can be changed. This book is a sure antidote to the confusion university courses often create about just what Marxism is.
Pamphlets are always going to be staple fare on radical bookstalls around the country, and Resistance Books has brought out a clutch of them this year. Two focus on the uranium and nuclear questions: Dollars for Death: Why Uranium Mining and the Nuclear Industry Must be Stopped by Dave Holmes and others, and Stop Uranium Mining! Australia's Decade of Protest 1975-85 by Greg Adamson.
Three other new titles are Comrades in Arms: Bolshevik Women in the Russian Revolution by Kathy Fairfax, Education: For Slavery or Liberation? by Jo Williams and Peter Camejo's How to Make a Revolution.
Two other titles which may make it out before the year closes are a book on the origins of women's oppression by longtime DSP leader Pat Brewer and a pamphlet edition of James Balowski's Green Left Weekly series on the history of the Indonesian Communist Party.
Resistance Books is also planning a number of new titles in 2000. They include: a book on the national question in the break-up of Yugoslavia by Michael Karadjis; a history of the DSP by party national secretary John Percy; and compilations of classic Marxist writings on themes such as democracy and the state, the revolutionary party, the national question and the liberation of women. A collection of articles and speeches by James P. Cannon is also in preparation.
Resistance Books is certainly a long way from rivalling, say, Penguin Books. But, then, it has a very different purpose. Much as it wants to distribute its titles as widely as possible, Resistance Books' fundamental aim is not to achieve commercial success or to generate "shareholder value", but to help educate and inspire activists in the progressive and socialist movements and to promote the struggle to get rid of capitalism and build a new society.
Judged from such a standpoint, the achievements of the last few years, although modest, have been a real success and an encouragement to persevere in our efforts.
We urge readers who haven't already done so to check out the advertisement in this issue of Green Left Weekly (page 13) and consider making an order. If you want to build up a library of socialist and Marxist works, the Resistance Books list is one of the best places to start.