After just finishing this book, I decided to post my thoughts and after about 30 minutes of writing them down, my computer crashed and I lost them all.
So here is a shortened and slightly embittered version of the original.
The Value of Radical Theory: An Anarchist Introduction to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy by Wayne Price was almost entirely theory and analysis. Being introduced by someone who refers to themselves as a “marxist informed anarchist” I found him to be well versed in his topic of discussion, well informed, and a reasonably eloquent writer.
Whereas some anarchists read the Communist Manifesto and consider themselves experts of why marxism, socialism, and communism are not for them, this book delves into Marx’s early criticisms of the capitalist economy, class struggle, exploitation, and his ideas on when, how, and why that structure should/could be overthrown and replaced by his ‘two stages’ of communism. A thorough (as thorough as 176 pages can be) review and explanation of Marx’s ideas of capital and political economy with little refute or discourse, the last chapter entitled ‘An Anarchist Critique of Marx’s Political Economy’ the author draws both differences and similarities, reminding us that we can learn a lot from his work.
As this book describes itself as an introduction,(I suggest pairing with “Reading Capital Politically” by Harry Cleaver, a 160 page study of Marx’s first chapter in Das Capital v.1) it is a concise, informative and poignant study of a subject that will arm you with the ability to agree with (on some points) or intelligently counter your marxist, socialist, communist comrades. So often we’ve inadvertently sabotaged one another’s efforts instead of searching for commonality and fighting the same enemy.
To quote Errico Malatesta:
“For my part, I do not believe there is ‘one solution’ to the social problems, but a thousand different and changing solutions in the same way as social existence is different and varied in time and space. After all, every institution, project or utopia would be equally good to solve the problem of human contentedness, if everybody had the same needs, the same opinions, or lived under the same conditions. But since such unanimity of thought and identical conditions are impossible (as well as, in my opinion, undesirable) we must…always bear in mind that we are not …living in a world populated only by anarchists. FOR A LONG TIME TO COME, WE SHALL BE A RELATIVELY SMALL MINORITY….WE MUST FIND WAYS OF LIVING AMONG NONANARCHISTS, AS ANARCHISTICALLY AS POSSIBLE….”
I apologize for the brevity but I’m still stewing over the loss of my earlier opinion.