Pathfinder Press

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Mon Nov 6 08:43:30 MST 2000

>>Most of the Progress Publishers, if not all of them, that came in hard
binding. I was speaking in this case of a volume of the Selected Works
of Lenin (in 3 volumes). I had purchased the other two about a month
before (from the CP-initiated bookstore) I found the other volume
existed in the local Pathfinder shop. The prices I gave might be off
by 0.50 cents, I cannot recall if the original was $6.00 or $6.50
(Cdn). The Patrhfinder price is a mark up of approximately 1150%. No
shipping costs that much. But I will agree it is better that they
exist than be pulped. That doesn't legitmize working class theory
being sold at an economic price out of range for the working class

I think this is a good example that shows the comrades obsessed with
Pathfinder's and the SWP's evil, exploitative nature have let their dead-end
factionalism cloud their judgement, objectivity and sense of fairness.

Look at the things we weren't told before. First, that the books were not
originally six (U.S.) dollars, but six Canadian dollars, less than four
american dollars. That would have been a dead giveaway, for very few books
cost less than $4 except at remainder tables.

Second, that this price was a totally subsidized price, really, simply a way
for the CPSU to cable money to their branch offices without running afoul of
various laws that might have stood in the way. We have to assume that
whatever the invoices said, the CP's never paid a penny for those books or
having them shipped to Canada, etc.

Third, Pathfinder's stock of these same books was obtained at a time when
they were about to be pulped. It did not, of course, occur to any of the
CP's in the English speaking world who DID have contact and contracts with
Progress to arrange to buy the ENTIRE stock at pulp prices, which they could
have done 1,000 times more easily than the SWP.

Instead, when the pulping was already underway, the SWP comrades got wind of
it and reacted as real revolutionaries would, and sent a scouting party into
the FSU to try to round up whatever could be saved. I may disagree with the
SWP on a million things, but I take my hat off to them for this initiative.

Then they had difficulty sending the books rescued back to New York, being
forced to do so in small bundles at what therefore we must assume were
extraordinary rates.

It is, of course, impossible to tell whether the wholesale price being
charged for the books, which is based on a $75 Canadian retail price would
be between $37.50-45.00 Canadian, is a figure that roughly represents the
SWP's costs in obtaining this stock, is below their costs, or above it. But,
on the face of it, under these circumstances, it does not seem at all
unreasonable to me.

This $75 Canadian is less than $50, and a completely normal price for
Pathfinder's hardbacks, and implies a wholesale price of $25-$30, assuming
Canadian booksellers do not further mark up retail prices because of extra
costs in shipping or other expenses.

The story about the SWP having mounted a rescue operation to save a bunch of
Lenin and Marx from the pulp mills is one that has circulated fairly widely
on the left, albeit not in the detail that has been recounted by people on
this list. And the timing of the SWP's acquisition of the stock, after the
collapse of the USSR, should have been a fairly clear indication that, at
any rate, these books could not have been acquired through normal commercial
transactions, never mind at the obviously preferential prices that the CP's

It is a swindle and, really, a slander to accuse the SWP of price gouging
because they charged many more times what the CP's did for the Lenin books
under those circumstances. The implication of saying that the books retailed
for $6 is that the SWP or anyone else could simply have bought them
wholesale for $3.00 or $3.50, which is not true.

We should be grateful to the SWP comrades that they took the action they
did, and anyone with a lick of sense can well understand that under the
conditions that prevailed of a rescue mission, the cost of acquiring these
books would have been extraordinarily high.

Instead, the thanks the SWP is getting from some people on this list are
scurrilous attacks based on distortion, misrepresentation and outrageous
comparisons with Furedi's right-wing sect, which has got nothing to do with
the workers movement.

What is being done in launching such allegations is not only shameful, it is
also completely counterproductive in convincing comrades in and around the
SWP that Pathfinder's actions in "defending" its copyrights against the MIA
are mistaken, totally unnecessary, and in fact what the MIA has been doing
will be of tremendous benefit to Pathfinder at this stage.

 What do you think Jack and M-A are going to tell their members and friends
about these protests? That these are the same people who, when the SWP went
through extraordinary effort and expense to save Lenin's works from Russian
pulp mills, accused Pathfinder of price-gouging for not giving the books
away at remainder-table prices like the Stalinists could afford to do
because the CP's had gotten them for free.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Macdonald Stainsby" <mstainsby at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2000 2:00 AM
Subject: Re: Pathfinder Press

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