Saturday, 29 August 2015

Two Views on Old Books.

Sasha Abramsky reminisces on his grandfather Chimen Abramsky, a Marxist and "Jewish intellectual, historian, book collector and bibliographer of world renown". (h/t Lounger, see also)


At the other hand, this is the view an "educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe", an Englishman of "polymathic intellect" has on old books:
"How can I accept a doctrine which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete economic textbook which I know to be not only scientifically erroneous but without interest or application for the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeois and the intelligentsia who, with whatever faults, are the quality in life and surely carry the seeds of all human advancement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the Red bookshops? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values." (John Maynard Keynes, "A Short View of Russia", 1925)

You don't need to answer these questions to me, but the time may come when you will have to answer them to yourself: 
"You must decide who your comrades are going to be in life's struggles. You must decide which side you are on. Will you side with the oppressed, or with the oppressors? Will you side with the exploiters, or with the exploited? Will you side with the occupiers, or with the occupied? I cannot make that decision for you, and neither can Smith and Marx and Durkheim and Freud and Weber." (here)

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