The influential comedian who grew up in a communist-supporting family in Liverpool selects works with radical clout – from manifestos to life-changing guides and tales of enemies within
As the son of members of the British Communist party the concept of revolution was common in our house.
Luckily my parents never got involved in one – God knows what kind of terrible world they would have built.
These books cover very different kinds of revolutionary struggle.
What they have in common is the effort to radically change the world.
2. The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
During my late teens and early 20s I was a member of a Maoist group – one of a large number of such organisations in the UK at the time.
The only people who truly bought into our fantasies of seizing power in the name of the proletariat were the various arms of the security state such as MI5 and the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.
It transpired that not only was every revolutionary party riddled with various kinds of spy – all of them unknown to each other – so were all the central committees of the left-wing trade unions.
In order to maintain their radical credentials these men and women pursued highly confrontational policies.
Therefore a lot of the militant actions thought of as typical of the era were in fact the work of the security services.
Chesterton was writing in 1908 but he tells a startlingly similar story.