Wm. Paul

Among the Books

Source: The Communist Review, March 1923, Vol. 3, No. 11.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The British Labour Movement, G. D. H. Cole.
The Development of Capitalism, M. H. Dobb.
Finance, E. Burns
English Economic History, G. D. H. Cole.
Price, Sixpence each.
Labour Research Dept., 162 Buckingham Palace Road, London, S.W.1.

ANYONE who has conducted an Economics or a History class knows how difficult it used to be to get a handy little outline of the subject which could be handed, with confidence, to students to enable them to extend their own reading. The writer used to give one or two special lectures to his students on the best books on these subjects. At long last the problem has been solved —at least, a decent beginning has been made towards solving it. The Labour Research Department—which daily proves its indispensable usefulness to the whole Labour movement in a thousand and one ways —has recently issued a series of splendid little handbooks which specifically deal with subjects generally taken up by classes and study circles. These little volumes do not pretend to compete in any way with the more ambitious series of text-books which are now being published by the Plebs League. The two series are as necessary as they are complementary. The amount of splendid and useful work that is being put into publications dealing exclusively with the educational phase of the Socialist movement makes one realise the lamentable weakness and shortcomings of the purely agitational side.

With becoming modesty the little handbooks of the Labour Research Department have been called the Syallus Series. But they are more than a mere list of books or lecture headings. They are splendidly got up and are written in a style which combines simplicity with brevity. So far four of these books have appeared and we are promised two more —Biology, by C. P. Dutt, and Economic Geography, by J. F. Horrabin.

English Economic History and The British Labour Movement have been very well done by G. D. H. Cole. The two brochures on Economics have been done by M. H. Dobb and Emile Burns. Dobb ’s The Development of Capitalism is altogether a splendid outline; we need not say much about this young economist who has proved his merit and who is well known to readers of the COMMUNIST REVIEW. Perhaps the most difficult subject to write up, in a brief form, was that of Finance, which has been successfully analysed and written in a manner remarkable for its ease of style and absence of difficult or technical language.

The publication of these outline books is a sure indication that the trade union and Labour movement is now waking up to the fact that Economics and Industrial History classes are an important, albeit neglected, part of their work. The time when our sentimental Labour Parliamentarians were able to sneer at educational classes is now past. Had some of our prominent Labour leaders been compelled to study elementary economics they never could have advocated such things as increased production under capitalism or War indemnities within imperialism.