Red Books Day celebrated internationally to mark 173 years since the publication of ‘The Communist Manifesto’

On February 21, 1948 the Manifesto of the Communist Party written by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels was first published in the UK. The book is recognized as one of the most influential in the history of humankind and it has been translated in almost all languages in the world.

February 22, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Members of Democratic Youth Federation of India celebrating #RedBooksDay2021 at Sasthamangalam, Trivandrum, Kerala. Photo: Subin Dennis

Thousands of people across the globe took part in celebrations of ‘Red Books Day,’ a day organized to commemorate the publication of the landmark text ‘The Communist Manifesto’ on February 21, 1848. Several events, organized both virtually and offline, marked the occasion.

Red Books Day which was first celebrated in 2020, has quickly become an important day on the calendar of left and progressive activists. As part of the lead-up to the 21st, individuals and organizations shared lists and images of the ‘red books’ that have impacted and influenced them, with the objective of spreading the reach of left literature to the larger sections of the society and across generations.

According to the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, Red Books Day goes beyond just celebrating the Manifesto but in defense of left ideas in general, “Over the past decades, the legions of the far right have specifically targeted left authors, publishers, distributors, and booksellers. Against Marxism and rational thought, the far right has pushed obscurantist and unscientific ideas, a fog around humanity.”

In a special address in honor of Red Books Day, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro highlighted the need for unity among the left forces from across the globe. He called the manifesto, “the most important political document in 200 years” and inspiration of several working class revolutions from Russia to Cuba to Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

173 years since its publication, the Manifesto of the Communist Party has been published in almost all languages in the world. It is one of the most read books ever and it continues to inspire millions of people.

As part of the commemoration of Red Books Day, activists and common readers organized collective readings of the Manifesto to mark the occasion of its publication.

India

Members of the Student Federation of India (SFI) in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University gathered at the center of the campus and read out the Manifesto.

In the capital of Kerala, Trivandrum, several members of the Progressive Association for Arts and Letters met and read the Manifesto in both English and Malayalam.

Several small collective reading sessions were organized all across the state on the occasion.

Delhi based LeftWord books organized a virtual conversation between Vijay Prashad, its editor and renowned Marxist scholar Prof. Aijaz Ahmed. During the conversation Prof. Ahmed pointed out how the manifesto reflects Marx’s advanced understanding of the capitalist system at a time when he was barely 30 years old and capitalism per se was not yet fully developed as a system.

Turkey

Yordam Kitab, a left publishing house based in Istanbul, Turkey organized an online event in which its authors and contributors read the Communist Manifesto. It also carried out a participatory program for its common readers asking them to share their readings of the books published by the group.

Yordam Kitab also organized a talk with Ertuğrul Kürkçü, leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey who said that the Manifesto is like an encyclopedia of socialism.

Latin America and the Caribbean

In Brazil, militants of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) organized several readings of the Communist Manifesto in MST camps and on virtual platforms on the occasion.

In Venezuela, the Simón Bolívar Institute invited members of different social movements as well as government officials, including Nicolás Maduro and Jorge Arreaza, to read sections of the text and shared the clips on their social media.

United States

A virtual reading of the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to commemorate the second annual Red Books Day and the 173rd Anniversary of the Manifesto’s publication was organized by New York based the Peoples Forum. Several well known personalities such as Danny Glover, Phil Agnew, Charisse Burden-Stelly and others participated in the event.

Slovenia

The publishing house Založba created a short film in Ljubljana, Slovenia “Dan rdečih knjig #RedBooksDay2021” showing different people reading ‘The Communist Manifesto.’

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