Reply to Pathfinder Critics

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Fri Nov 3 09:04:51 MST 2000

<<Absolutely...but does this justify the hiking of $5.00 books to
seventy while calling them collectors? To hell with that... Pathfinder
is an ultra capitalist org if I ever saw one.>>

 -- Macdonald

I assume the reference is to the alleged purchase (rescue) by Pathfinder of some
stock from Moscow's Progress Publishers, for later sale by Pathfinder.

Keep in mind that Progress Publishers' output was heavily subsidized, for all
the good reasons cited by a number of subscribers to this list: i.e.
availability to working people around the world. But that's the difference
between having or not having state power. Pathfinder simply does not have the
resources that were available to Progress Publishers under Soviet rule.

The fact is, the views of Pathfinder's owners notwithstanding, the capitalists
won the Cold War. So if old Progress books are now selling at much higher
prices, view it as yet another price we pay for an historic defeat. I doubt
Pathfinder is profiteering from these titles; in any event, to prove that you
need to know what they paid for them.

Speaking of Progress Publishers' subsidized prices: I recall being told many
years ago by the daughter of a former editor of the Canadian Tribune (then the
CP weekly newspaper) that about half the Tribune's circulation was sent to the
Soviet Union and paid for at good prices in hard currency. She thought a similar
policy applied to books published by the Canadian CP. Her mother worked in one
of the Ukrainian Canadian book and gift shops (there were almost a half dozen of
them across Canada) and was paid by the Soviets a salary equivalent at official
exchange rates to that of a senior manager in the USSR (then about $60,000 to
$80,000 at the official rate) - as were the half dozen other party members in
her shop. All of them handed over at least half of their salary in dues or
pledges to the party here. That was how "Moscow gold" worked in practice, she

Needless to say, Pathfinder Press enjoys none of these perks.

Similar policies were applied around the world, I suspect. About a dozen years
ago, my wife and I bought a beautiful art book from a Soviet bookstore in Havana
of French impressionist paintings in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. It cost
us about US$5.00. Recently I saw the same book on sale in a store here in Ottawa
at almost a hundred dollars Canadian (about US$65).

Richard Fidler
rfidler at

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