Marx for Beginners
Attempts to simplify and summarise the writings of political philosopher Karl Marx have been attempted before. This one however, is the only one we've seen to have a go at doing it in the format of a comic.
The book can be roughly split into three parts. The first is a biography of Marx, dwelling explicitly on the poverty of his background and how often he struggled to supply his family with even the basics of survival. Part two is a whirlwind history of philosophy to help position Marx's thinking in the context of evolving thought. And last up is an equally whirlwind tour round Marx's many works, ending up with a reprint of many passages from the Communist Manfesto.
Much of the writing is collected in lumps of prose and the illustration adds little to the text. More often than not, the pictures are no more than chirpy asides, offering passing comment on the subject at hand using illustrations from artists of the time or sketched by Rius himself. Sometimes this comment is faintly illustrative but more often than not is decidedly daft, nothing more than a welcome break in the text.
The writing itself is dense and confusing, which Rius apologises and makes excuses for in the introduction. A serious edit or two, even by Rius himself, could perhaps have made all the difference. There's also very little analysis and the book has clearly dated, having been written before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rius is an enthusiastic Marxist and writes from the view that it's capitalism, not communism, that's about to hit the rocks, with the worker's revolution only a short step away from happening on a global scale. Like it or not, history has made this increasingly less likely.
Perhaps explaining the works of Marx in a comic strip is simply too complicated a project, but this is a disappointing effort. Even the further reading suggests moving straight onto Marx himself, almost giving the impression that Rius suspects this might be a better starting point than his own book. Make up your own minds if you please, but we'd probably tend to agree with him.
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