Recent book fairs in Montreal and Manila show growing interest among working people in literature addressing key political questions they face as a result of deepening worldwide economic and social crises, growing capitalist competition and war threats, and rising struggles by workers. More are interested in learning about how to build a vanguard communist party that can lead the working class and its allies to power.
Tens of thousands of people thronged the Salon du Livre de Montreal Nov. 25-28. The largest annual book fair in Canada, it showcases French-language authors in all genres of literature, and now includes English-language publishers.
The booth for New York-based Pathfinder Press — which features books by leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and other revolutionary combatants from around the world — attracted considerable interest. It also featured the Militant newspaper and was staffed by volunteers from the communist movement in North America from Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, British Columbia; and Washington, D.C., Albany and New York.
Some 94 books, mainly in French, were purchased, along with 13 introductory Militant subscriptions. This was the most Pathfinder books ever sold there.
Among the best sellers were Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power and The Turn to Industry: Forging a Proletarian Party, both by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the SWP, as well as books by leaders of Cuba’s socialist revolution.
“Several people made a beeline to get The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon,” with 10 copies sold, Marie-Claire David, one of the Pathfinder volunteers at the fair, told the Militant.
The French edition of Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87 was another title in demand, also with 10 sold. This included those bought at the meeting on the book reported on the opposite page.
Manila International Book Fair
The Manila International Book Fair, normally a popular annual mass event, was held “virtually” for the second year in a row Nov. 17-23, as pandemic restrictions there continued. Pathfinder was the only international participant, after having stalls there in 2018 and 2019.
“The Philippines is situated right in the center of the ongoing rivalry between Washington and Beijing,” Linda Harris told the Militant from Sydney. “Just as the Manila book fair was opening, tensions flared as Chinese Coast Guard ships fired a water cannon to block two boats taking food to Filipino marines stationed on a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.”
Workers and peasants in the Philippines have a long history of popular upsurges, despite government repression. A chief obstacle to the toilers finding the road forward has been both the ultraleftism and the class-collaborationism of the Maoist movement, the main, but declining, variant of Stalinism there.
Harris said this was reflected in purchases of Maoism vs. Bolshevism: The 1965 Catastrophe in Indonesia by SWP leader Joseph Hansen and The Chinese Revolution and Its Development, which contains SWP reports and articles from 1949 to 1964.
An attractive leaflet designed by supporters of the communist movement was featured on the book fair’s website. It was also emailed to over 500 people who had signed up at previous book fairs to receive more information.
A dozen people, as well as the Popular Bookstore in Manila, bought or expressed interest in getting some 43 titles. Many more browsed in preparation for the return of the physical event, hopefully next year.