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A UNIQUE production bringing the Communist Party’s programme to a wider audience in audiobook form will be launched at the TUC Congress in Brighton on October 20, reflecting a growing fascination with the party’s ideas.
An indicator of the surge in interest in British communism today is that the political programme Britain’s Road to Socialism (BRS) has had to be reprinted five times since the latest edition came out just two years ago.
Its publisher, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), has seen membership grow significantly — with a corresponding increase in demand for BRS — as people search for an alternative pathway towards achieving a better society.
Much more than a manifesto, BRS is a statement of principles underpinning a long-term plan of action, a strategy which is at the core of what the CPB does. It is full of ideas that offer powerful answers to the challenges of our times.
Now, to make this even more accessible to a wider audience, the party has produced BRS as a downloadable audiobook, available without charge.
Initially a response to requests from visually impaired comrades who had difficulty accessing the printed version, the audio work also reflects both society’s massive shift to digital modes of consuming information and the party’s commitment to using all platforms to reach its growing audience. Making the download free is a small commitment to people who have a squeezed income.
The production was technically challenging and is the result of a unique collaboration between 10 party members who offered their time, expertise and enthusiasm over a five-month period.
Those who volunteered were scattered around the country and because of the distances involved most meetings and discussions were held remotely, with comrades later sitting down to record individual contributions online.
All of it was then skilfully stitched together to form a coherent, engrossing piece of work. The project progressed even as its members were also fully engaged fighting local council elections in May.
For the party, the project was something of an experiment — and it’s turned out well.
The recording features working-class voices from across Britain, with contributions from Wales, Lancashire, Birmingham, south London and east London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the north-west and north-east of England.
This was important to reflect the unified nature of the programme. An added attraction of differing regional voices is that they give the combined effort — a word-for-word read-through of 72 pages, 24 sections, six chapters, a summary and an introduction — an intimate, conversational quality: engaging and enjoyable, more like eavesdropping on people talking than hearing a series of dry lectures.
The project team was led by comrades in Edinburgh and Cambridge using new software to create an all-Britain studio environment.
Starting in April, the detailed online discussion and planning led to a jigsaw of individual recording sessions which were then edited into a high-quality product.
Artwork was produced by a team of designers, for maximum impact, and music composed to enhance the experience.
The finished product is introduced by a short recorded preamble from the party’s general secretary Robert Griffiths.
It is the BRS, the voice of the party, spoken by members of the party.
Work is already under way to produce a Welsh-language version, and there are plans to record more audiobooks, including the Communist Manifesto, the work which changed the world by inspiring millions to re-evaluate their understanding of the capitalist forces which dominate their lives.
A production of Marx’s Wages, Price and Profit, expanding on the theme that capitalism requires the exploitation of working people to deliver profits, is also in the pipeline. Both of these, like BRS, are already available in print through the CP.
It will be available as a download — released chapter by chapter (30-50 minutes each) over six weeks — from October 20, on the Communist Party’s website — www.communistparty.org.
Mark Blacklock is a journalist, lecturer and member of the CPB in north-east England.
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