That’s the new Terry Eagleton book, which apparently needs no subtitle. Most of the claims in the book are correct, and they debunk superficial or incorrect readings of Marx. In that regard it is useful and it is also clearly written. Still, I have to judge it as a bad book, for instance:
But the so-called socialist system had its achievements, too. China and the Soviet Union dragged their citizens out of economic backwardness into the modern industrial world, at however horrific a human cost; and the cost was so steep partly because of the hostility of the capitalist West.
Building up an economy from very low levels is a backbreaking, dispiriting task. It is unlikely that men and women will freely submit to the hardships it involves.
…there is a paradoxical sense in which Stalinism, rather than discrediting Marx’s work, bears witness to its validity.
Try this one:
Revolution is generally thought to be the opposite of democracy, as the work of sinister underground minorities out to subvert the will of the majority. In fact, as a process by which men and women assume power over their own existence through popular councils and assemblies, it is a great deal more democratic than anything on offer at the moment. The Bolsheviks had an impressive record of open controversy within their ranks, and the idea that they should rule the country as the only political party was no part of their original programme.
Ahem. Terry Eagleton…telephone!