City Builders and Vandals in Our Age (Book Review)

Through articles and essays, Caleb Maupin gives us deep analyses of historical events, leading us to the position of human history we are in now and provides direction for the working class to move forward. His expresso shots of history expose the true nature of the capitalist class and imperialists, and how to beat them.


The book provides a simple narrative in which to understand how human history has developed: there are empires, movements and societies who build and there are empires, movements, and societies which vandalize. The term Left is a relatively new term, but progressive forces in society have existed throughout history long before, as well as the regressive forces in society. Today is no different and Maupin shows us this easily in his new book, City Builders and Vandals in Our Age: Articles and Essays on Socialism.

Today, these forces are more complex and confusing than ever before. It’s a blurry line and sometimes we can be tricked into one line or the other. Maupin clarifies this line with his articles and essays which cover a wide variety of topics. Especially for people new to politics, this book is a must-read. It clears out the junk and propaganda, simplifies complex issues, and provides explanations which are simple to understand.

Who was Julius Caesar, really? Where did the imperialist notion of exploitation and colonialism originate? What is socialism and how do we get there? Which nations and groups are fighting imperialism in a principled way? What is Bonapartism and why is it important to understand in regards to people like Jeff Bezos Mark Zuckerberg, the Trump Administration, and the US Ruling Class? What’s the truth behind US foreign policy in places like Syria, Iran, China, or Korea? Who is the synthetic left and why is it important to clarify? Where do we go from here? These are just some of the questions Maupin tackles in this book.

With a solid mixture of storytelling and journalism, Maupin provides a strong argument for the importance and necessity of socialism. Capitalism has created crisis after crisis. Our environment is dying. Our society is collapsing. Wars continue to wage and the profiteers continue to profit while the working people of the world continue to be oppressed and exploited. It is not more capitalism, or clean capitalism, that will save us. This system of exploitation must be dismantled and human history shows that there has always been a fight between the progressive and regressive forces. But this fight is now more important than ever. Capitalism is a disease and the only cure is socialism.

An important strain of thought Maupin begins the book with is the Atlanticist Pathology.

Maupin begins the book by explaining the Atlanticist Pathology, an important mindset to understand in order for us to recognize where we are today. This is the state of mind that unfolded in the western world which is based on exploitation, colonialism, domination, and resource extraction. Going back to the East India Company, the London Stock Exchange, and the British Imperialists, Maupin accurately describes how this specific ideology has plagued much of the western world and how it continues in US policy today. Maupin says,

“The rise of the Atlanticist Pathology involved promoting a generalized vandal mindset among the population. This British homeland, much like Rome, developed a domestic culture designed to breed sadistic raiders and vandals. In Victorian Britain, parents were taught never to hug their children, and to greatly restrict their affection. Sadistic corporal punishment became standard for school children, with rattan canes imported from Asia as treasured implements for inflicting pain. A puritanical and shame-based attitude toward matters of sexuality became widespread. War was glorified in every aspect of life…Whatever progressivism had been at the foundations of the revolutions to topple feudalism seemed to be pushed into the background with the rise of imperialism, capitalism in its monopoly stage. The new global economic order became an expression of the Atlanticist Pathology. The vandals had seized control of the high seas, and as pirates they proceeded to raid and plunder the entire world. The city builders were in retreat.”

-Caleb Maupin

We are still living in an age where the Atlanticist Pathology dominates the world. It maintains ideological hegemony among humans in most societies. So, what are we do to? The answer lies in the world-historical lessons drawn from socialist societies. Maupin uses many examples but particularly the example of the USSR stood out to me and summarizes the answer to this burning question:

The secret behind [the Soviet Union’s] massive success in economic construction was socialist-central planning. The Soviet state had the ability to do what the chaos of the market cannot do, unleashing growth. The Soviet Union had eliminated the anarchy of production, the chaos of the market, and thus enabled a backward, under-developed society to rise to the level of a global superpower. The Stalin era was marked by mobilizations of the population to achieve collective goals towards the overall rebirth of the country…Stalin’s five-year economic plans completely transformed the Soviet Union into an economic superpower. By 1936, the USSR was the world’s top steel manufacturer, and had constructed the world’s largest hydro-electrical power plant. The Soviet Union had brought running water and electricity to every household and wiped out illiteracy among the population. New universities had been constructed across the country, and modern apartment buildings had replaced rural villages with huts.
It must be noted that the economic renaissance created by socialism in Russia [from the 1920s to the 1930s] and the surrounding republics that made up the Soviet Union, took place while the western world was experiencing the Great Depression… The Soviet Union very much became a society marching in line with the legacy of city builders throughout human history.”

-Caleb Maupin

The path forward towards a better world is as clear as day. But we have been convinced by the Atlanticist Pathology and their minions in mainstream media and in governmental offices that their way forward to the future is the only way. Their way is actually moving us backwards.

Now, I believe that the people of the western world are required to overcome all the anti-communist and anti-socialist propaganda. This propaganda has been effective in turning the working class against each other. Essentially, we’ve become vandals towards each other. We need a new lens and a new path. Our first step to transforming ourselves from vandals to city builders requires us to overcome this propaganda. The way to do that is to investigate, for ourselves, what socialism was really about and what it actually achieved in the 20th century.

Capitalism and the Atlanticist Pathology has taken us far enough down the road of vandals. Socialism steers us down the path of the city builders throughout history. Which side are you on?

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