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War of the Classes

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(1905)





Jack London is best remembered as the author of 'The Call of the Wild', and his position in the ranks of American writers is assured. What is less-known is that Mr. London was also a socialist - one with a fairly deep understanding of the titanic struggle between capital and labour, between the past and the future, that was taking place at the time - and which continues to this day. 'The War of the Classes', is a compilation of essays that sets out London's views regarding the subject. Much of its contents will be familiar to those on the Left, but even veteran radicals will find London's expression of these issues refreshing, such is his writing style. Regarding the substance of the book, there are two areas where London was ahead of his time, and raised questions which are pertinent to ours. The first is the possibility of capitalism enduring in the form of an oligarchy (a 'benevolent feudalism') - which seems to describe the current situation all too well. The other is the problem of how the human race is to be improved if even the weak and worthless members are nurtured, cared for and permitted to reproduce - as would invariably happen in a socialist society (an issue which seems to have been on the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche among others). These and other issues raised by the book make it quite thought-provoking. The last chapter of the work is perhaps the most moving, as it describes how the rugged individualist became a socialist - a transformation that presages that of mankind in general. They provide a deep insight into not just the author's character, but to that of humankind in general. All in all, this is a classic description, critique and answer to the capitalist system: one that is well worth reading.--Submitted by Arindam Basu


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