Open source Marxism: Free PDFs from Historical Materialism, Verso, and Jacobin

UPDATE: Though the links below are no longer working, some hero bundled the entire contents of this post into a torrent that can be downloaded from The Pirate Bay.

Stumbled across an amazing database of free Marxist PDFs, the posts of which seems to be password protected but whose files are nevertheless accessible. (You can click any of the hundreds of links below to download them directly, since the post itself is locked). Even if these get taken down, as seemed to happen with the Fuck V£R$0 blog a few years ago, the cat is already out of the bag. As Novara Media pointed out following the Lawrence & Wishart copyright controversy in 2014, once published these things tend to obey the logic of the so-called “Streisand effect.” They explained that “[the] attempt to ban or censor something will tend to increase its prominence and breadth of dissemination. The instantly and near-infinitely replicable quality of digital information makes this easy.”

In their view, this is just one of “Seven Reasons ‘Radical’ Publishers are Getting OWNED by the Internet.” You should really read the whole article; it’s quite good. With Lawrence & Wishart, the outcry over their exclusive claims to ownership over material that should be made available to all was nearly universal. However, publishing tycoons such as Sebastian Budgen — until recently a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party in Britain (prior to its 2013 rape scandal), commissioning editor of Historical Materialism, Verso Books, New Left Review, and now also Jacobin — take exception when similar demands are placed on books released by their own companies. Budgen of course claims that the printing presses he works for are not ordinary companies, but rather integral parts of a “counterhegemonic apparatus” that will someday challenge hegemonic capitalism.

The Association of Musical Marxists captured this hilarious sense of exceptionalism on their “Sebastian Budgen Memorial Download Page,” featuring one of his trademark outbursts against those who illegally download books:

Before the internet people had to actually go to the photocopying shop. Now they don’t even have to do that and they are outraged when they can’t download the stuff for free. Fuckers – I hate them so much…

I make a distinction between the honest downloaders who do it discreetly and will spend money when they have it and the loud-mouthed freeloading scum who have no interest in or understanding of how to build a counterhegemonic apparatus.

I’m not just interested in people being customers but in recognising, to the extent that they are leftists, that they should be involved in building a counterhegemonic apparatus. The anarchoids and lazy leftists of today don’t get that so they act like the lowest petty bourgeois individualist swine.

Usually rhetoric denouncing “lazy fuckers” and “freeloading scum” comes from neoliberal demagogues, who want to gut social welfare programs and impose austerity. Not this time, though. This time it’s straight from the mouths of counterhegemonic apparatchiks, tilting at windmills in order to protect intellectual property. Pretty pathetic, if you ask me. Whoever uploaded these PDFs has it more right, to my mind: “Knowledge must be held in common.”

Erik Olin Wright, in his book Envisioning Real Utopias (ironically published by Verso), went so far as to claim online file-sharing as an “interstitial strategy” that can “subvert capitalist intellectual property.” I personally doubt whether acts of petty piracy can undermine capitalist social relations, but maybe it’s significant as a utopian impulse. Better to just recognize file-sharing as an unavoidable fact, and that embarrassing hissy fits like the one above only encourage practitioners to download harder.

Maybe I’d feel a bit worse about linking to all these texts if Budgen weren’t such a whiny crybaby. Hard to sympathize with him, however, after he put out this ridiculous burn notice against me a couple months back, urging other leftists to erect a cordon sanitaire around me. Leftists should “shun” and “no platform” me, defriending anyone who posts or shares links to this blog. Kind of reminds me of a recent Clickhole article, “Uncompromising: This Tyrant Unfriends All Dissidents as an Example to the Rest,” which describes “[a] despotic maniac rules with an iron fist of callous indifference, unfriending anyone who dares go against something he posts.”

Childishness and grandiosity aside, though, this is a great list of books. Grab them while you can, but don’t despair if they’re removed before you get the chance. Someone will repost them eventually, probably sooner than later. Enjoy. Continue reading