Our writer-at-large, Candice Dyer, examines Little Five Points’ Revolution Books:
By Candice Dyer
Revolution Books welcomes the recent buzz about socialism, even if the debate is less than comradely. “This is an opening for a moment of education, for people to ask ‘what is socialism?’ and ‘what is capitalism?’” says Tracie Stern, manager of the bookstore, one of about a dozen outlets for the Revolutionary Communist Party USA.
Despite what some pundits trumpet, President Obama upholds the latter system, she says, which “is the root cause of the world’s problems. Radical revolution is the solution.”
The bookstore opened in the 1980s in the West End and later relocated to Little Five Points, where it occupies a booth in the Four Corners Market. Shoppers can hear a background soundtrack of impassioned political rhetoric while browsing a variety of lefty, Maoist-friendly lit, anchored by treatises from party chairman Bob Avakian (From Ike to Mao and Beyond, Away with All Gods!).
Concerned about nuclear war, Stern became involved with communism in the Reagan era, too. A year and a half ago, she began managing the bookstore, which is staffed by volunteers and funded by donations as well as sales. Now, more than 150 years after the Communist Manifesto, as many as forty “workers of the world” unite weekly at this mini-politburo to discuss social injustices and distribute the party’s newspaper on street corners.
“We encounter some resistance [like hecklers], along with surprise,” Stern says, “A lot of people, though, increasingly are intrigued; they say ‘I knew I was being lied to!’”
For detractors who suggest that someone missed a crucial memo from the Cold War, Stern argues that communism has not failed. “People are taught that we live in the best possible system, which corrodes them into lowering their sights,” Stern says. “It may sound like an utopian dream, but a better world really is possible.”