The Militant Far Left Bookshelf
I originally started this thread more or less for a friend
who seems to be engaged in
at the moment. Nevertheless, topics about the radical far left seems to
have gained some traction on ATS in recent days, so in the interest of keeping this thread going, I’ll toss out another post, this time on some
popular volumes that might have been found on the bookshelf of yesterday’s far left revolutionary. Remember that in the old, pre-widespread-internet
days, books played a huge role in helping people to define themselves and creating communities of intellect based on the shared consumption of certain
Without further ado, then, below are a few of the tomes that one would be likely to find on the shelf of any self-respecting street revolutionary back
in the day. Not all of these books are “revolutionary,” and there are similar examples I’ve probably missed (I decided to leave Steal this
by Abbie Hoffman off, for examle, although I could easily have included it, or other similar works). But the short list below provides a look
at what these urban guerillas were feeding their head.
The Minimanual of the Urban Guerilla by Carlos Marighella
This short, almost mystically vague manual of urban street revolution was written by a Brazillian seeking to overthrow his government. Ultimately more
inspirational than tactical, it proved to be a big favorite with the armed leftists of the developed world, perhaps as much for how it made
revolutionaries feel about themselves as anything else.
Guerilla Warfare by Che Guevara
Another short, accessible manual much beloved by the militant left. Feeling themselves outnumbered and outgunned in facing the state, groups like the
Baader-Meinhof Gang or the Weathermen sought to apply a strategy lifted from Che and other third-world vanguardists of focusing on urban guerilla
operations and asymmetrical warfare.
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
This is less about violent confrontation and more about street-level organization for change. It was read and loved by many violent and non-violent
radicals alike, and many have pointed to it as an influence on the current administration in the White House. Be that as it may, the book has been
influential in radical leftist circles since the days of turmoil this thread covers.
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Still a favorite with teenage boys everywhere looking to blow things up, this underground classic has long provided the nuts and bolts of dangerous
(often illegal) street-rumble techniques and weaponry, among other general dirty tricks.
Quotations from Chairman Mao
Perhaps one of the most popular books ever written, at one time going outside without a copy of Mao’s “little red book” could get you shipped
off to the collectives for punishment in China. In the west, it was never embraced with such fervor, but among new-left radicals, this small volume
was both a fashion statement and a source of ideological inspiration, with its pithy quotes and short passages on numerous topics of interest to
Soledad Brother by George Jackson
This book is a good example of the “Black Power memoir” genre that proved enormously popular with the radical left. Whether it was this book
(detailing the imprisonment and thoughts of later-to-be-killed-by-the-authorities Black Panther leader), the Autobiography of Malcolm X,
Soul on Ice
by Eldridge Cleaver, the gritty real-life memories and tales of resistance in books of this sort was an influence on groups like
the Weathermen, as well as countless radical individuals.
Pedoagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
This book about teaching the oppressed in third-world scenarios or poverty zones within the developed world was very popular among radicals who
entered into the educational system and began to transform it in the 60s and 70s. Although not a work of violence, it was important for many who dwelt
on the outer edges of leftist radicalism and then re-entered the intellectual mainstream through the ivory tower.
One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
This provided the philosophical framework for much of radical/violent "new-new left" thought. A very influential work by a member of the "Continental
School" of radical French semioticians, this book showed how society allegedly represses people culturally and mentally in a way that can be thought
of as violence or oppression. Learning to see "normlacy" as repressive was a key part of the justification the radicals used for their attacks in many
cases...as well as the non-violent intellectual attacks on mainline culture by academic radicals in the decades since the 60s. Marcuse's work was
infulential for philosophically/semiotically-inclined members of both leftist circles.
edit on 3/21/12 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)