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  • Socialism...Seriously

  • A Brief Guide to Human Liberation
  • By: Danny Katch
  • Narrated by: Dara Rosenberg
  • Length: 4 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 59

Danny Katch brings together the two great Marxist traditions of Karl and Groucho to provide an entertaining and insightful introduction to what the socialist tradition has to say about democracy, economics, and the potential of human beings to be something more than bomb-dropping, planet-destroying, racist fools.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Seriously Entertaining and Seriously Sincere

  • By Susie on 04-20-16

Anyone serious about Socialism AVOID this book

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-18

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you have never been exposed to the very basics of Socialist thought, Socialism: Seriously by Danny Katch might be for you. Katch does highlight how true Socialism was not tried in the USSR, and what is stated in the Communist Manifesto - but beyond that, there is nothing of value for the "serious" Socialist or student of Socialism in here.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not sure yet...

Which character – as performed by Dara Rosenberg – was your favorite?

Dara was a good narrator. She brought life to the words written - unfortunately, there isn't much substance to what is being said. She did the best she could with lackluster work.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Socialism...Seriously?

Almost the entire book. This could have been a 1 hour primer on what Socialism is - but whenever the author tries to delve into solving the problems of Socialism, he fails to address even one major concern.

Any additional comments?

Just to frame my review here in the proper context: I am a college graduate, fairly well educated, and have been a strong proponent of Democratic Socialism for many years. I have studied the Communist Manifesto, as well as many critiques of Socialism, and understand the economic underpinnings of both Capitalism and Socialism. I think that Socialism could work - if some changes were made to it overall. The thing is, I don't know what changes should be made exactly - and so I got this book, hoping that the author might pose some new solutions to old problems, or revolutionize the way I think about classic Marxism. Also, to be up front, I stopped listening to this book with 45 minutes left (it is a 6 hour book, so I finished it - more or less) because I was so frustrated with the lack of content.

The problem with this book is that it is idealist to the extreme: Katch speaks about an idealist Socialist future in the terms of "wouldn't it be great if _____ worked?! Imagine that!" I would love it if the ideal were true, too - but it isn't. Imagination is no substitute for real solutions. Katch fails to address even ONE major problem encountered in Socialism: The Problem of Worker Incentive, how basic human greed necessitates the need for physical currency (which was discovered early on by the USSR), how a true Socialist society run by Councils (Soviets) is so filled with bureaucracy that it causes major slowdowns, etc. By the time I got to chapter 10, I was absolutely amazed that not even ONE of these issues was addressed or even mentioned in passing. It is truly astounding.

The only two things Katch tries to tackle, and fails in addressing, is the stifling of creativity in a Socialist system and the banning of religion. These two are right at the end of the book, as if they are an afterthought - but the first is one of the biggest problems in Socialism. Without innovation and creativity, the economy inevitably stagnates. This ties into the Problem of Worker Incentive - but Katch's solution is just "well, people will do their best... it is also a problem in Capitalism so why bring it up?" The brushing off of this majorly important topic and then trying to switch into how it is also a problem today is such a logical fallacy and so deceptive that this is where I started literally getting angry with this book. The addressing of religion is no less condescending to the reader: The argument is "if we were in Socialism, there wouldn't be a need for religion. This is because religion is a comfort for people, one that they NEED under Capitalism, so since Socialism will provide their every need religion will die out naturally." This is such a reductionist and insulting view of religious belief and how the human psyche works that this is where I just turned off this book in frustration. Maybe more idiotic things are spewed at the very end - but I didn't get there. It feels unfair to review a book without fully completing it - but I cannot stand one more trite, idealistic piece of nonsense read to me from here.

If I could rate this 0 stars, I would. The performance is the only thing that makes it tolerable - the rest of it is garbage suitable only for kindling. AVOID.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful