French book fair: ‘We absolutely have to change the world’

By Derek Jeffers
October 3, 2022

BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France — “I’m happy to buy this book. We absolutely have to change this world, but first we have to understand it,” said Marie Dechelle, a computer science student in Paris, as she bought the French edition of the latest Pathfinder book, Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity: The Long View of History. She had stopped at the Pathfinder Press stand at the Sept. 9-11 Fete de l’Humanite here. Organized annually by the daily newspaper of the French Communist Party, the event attracts tens of thousands of workers and youth.

Pathfinder supporters sold 227 books during the weekend, the most ever sold at the Fete, including 49 copies of the new Pathfinder title, which features articles by Frederick Engels, Karl Marx and Socialist Workers Party leaders George Novack and Mary-Alice Waters. Twenty-one copies were sold of the French edition of The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, which explains the class roots of Jew-hatred and the fact there is “no solution to the Jewish question under capitalism.” Fifteen people bought copies of the Militant.

Especially striking this year was the large numbers of young people who made their way to the Village du livre, the part of the Fete reserved for book tables. Roughly half of the Pathfinder books sold during the weekend were sold there.

Safia Ouabaid and Roman Laniel, students from Amiens, an industrial city 100 miles north of Paris, bought the French edition of Thomas Sankara Speaks, as did 36 others. “How can revolts like those in Tunisia or Algeria be transformed into revolutions that really change things?” Ouabaid asked. “Up until now, there have been a lot of revolts in the Arab countries, but they haven’t led to much change.”

A group of young people from Cork, Ireland, bought several Pathfinder titles. One of them, a student originally from Oman, bought three Pathfinder books in Arabic: Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes; Is Biology Woman’s Destiny? by Evelyn Reed; and The First and Second Declarations of Havana.