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Born in a working-class area of Sydney in 1955, I first received specific education in Marxism from a friend of my father, who was born in 1903, and had been National President of the 'Marxist' Eureka Youth League and a state organiser for the main building industry union. Every Saturday evening 'Uncle Don' would visit and talk to me about Marxism and history in general, usually while playing me at chess. He would often illustrate his points with references to: what had actually happened on the building site that week (he was a carpenter); and/or classic works of fiction (Jonathan Swift, Guy de Maupassant, Lewis Carroll, Jack London, etc).
My older sister was a 'convert' of Uncle Don, and she was very active in the anti-Apartheid and anti-Vietnam War movements. She also hung out with the somewhat avant garde of inner Sydney from about 1963, and would show off her 'baby brother' to them, taking me to some anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.
I began reading Marxist books (Marx, Engels, Lenin) in my mid teens and finally joined a socialist youth league in 1974. Though I found I had much in common with that group, I nonetheless increasingly felt that they were not committed to Leninism, to revolution. I gradually learned through the 1970's (and through the reading of Lenin's 45-volume Collected Works), of the anti-revolutionary nature of Stalinism, and that this term was still appropriate for the leadership of the USSR even though Stalin had died in 1953.
In the late '70's I went to meetings of a Trotskyist group for a while (they were aligned with the "International Committee of the Fourth International", headquartered in London), but increasingly found that they were too closely aligned with Middle Eastern anti-imperialist nationalism. (As progressive as that was at the time, it still hard a 'dark' side, which the pro-Moscow "Tudeh" Party in Iran fatally found out not long after that.)
I then attended meetings of the Spartacist League ( affiliated to the International Spartacist Tendency, headquartered in the US), and found a group pretty close to the Bolshevism of Lenin and later Trotsky. Around this time (the early 1980's) I began selecting passages from Lenin's Collected Works with the idea of exposing all the reformist fake "Marxist" groups I had encountered in Sydney (which were all affiliated to some international group headquartered in the UK or the US).
Thus this book was born, and I actually finished an earlier version of it in 1986 (having to type its 400-odd A4 pages on a manual typewriter - no word processors then). Queensland University Press were interested but something strange happened to me - after finally reading Solzhenitsyn's expose of the Stalinist Empire, and with other...weird coincidences, I actually had a kind of 'Born Again' Christian experience, so I ceased trying to publish that earlier version of The Essential Lenin.
I then spent the next 18 years studying Christianity, even belonging to a Pentecostal church for a few years in the middle of that time. My self-organised "Christian" studies took me through Pentecostalism and into Calvinism. With many life crises along the way, I finally came to the conclusion that there is too much evil in the world (and for so long!) for the existence of any omnipotent and omniscient and 'caring' and 'interventionist' 'god'.
I then researched Gnosticism, Near Death Experiences, Krishnamurti, and finally Eckhart Tolle, gaining something from each along the way. But it was the growing aggression of US imperialism (not the American people), the increasing return of Edwardianism in the areas of labour and living conditions, and the growing arrogance of the capitalist elite (e.g. the biggest bankers expecting and getting the people to bail them out), that gradually led me back to Marxism; whereupon I dug out the old manuscript and began seriously digitising and updating it near the beginning of 2015.
The other big part of my life has been music. I was classically (though a bit too leniently) trained on the piano by my father from the time I was about 5 years old, and then got into Rock music in my teens (keys, bass, vocals, guitar, and eventually lead guitar). I think the 'pull' of Rock music was extra strong because many of those musically-amazing English, American, Canadian and Australian bands & artists of the 1960's & early 1970's also had socially hard-hitting lyrics.
This book I feel, is the best contribution I can make (in my solitary middle-age) to try and save humanity (and all life on Earth) from its self-destruction that modern capitalism is inevitably causing.