This pocket book is a contemporary attempt to update the original Communist Manifesto.
An odd crossbreed between academic treatise and popular political pamphlet, its regular references to the thought of philosophers like Lacan, Zizek and Ranciere will undoubtedly deter those looking for a straightforward argument. But it shouldn't, as there are gems of original thinking to be found among the esoteric philosophical discourse.
Dean lectures in political theory in New York and her book is surprisingly courageous. She argues forcefully for a communist party as a necessary focus for anti-capitalist protest and essential if a socialist/communist society is to have a chance of being built. Even so, she ignores the fact that there already is such a party in the US, albeit very small.
Dean also contends that the idea of a communist future is essential if we are to seriously consider alternatives to capitalism.
Unlike so many on the left, she advances a more differentiated and objective critique of the Soviet Union.
And she gives due attention to the many groups such as the Occupy movement and others in challenging the capitalist ethos but argues that without a party to draw the threads together, such challenges will remain impotent.
From a US perspective Dean demonstrates how anti-communism in its many forms and guises is used to confront any challenge, however innocuous, to the system - communism as a "spectre" needs to be maintained if only to scare the masses into permanent submission to the present system.
There has been a change, Dean contends, from an emphasis on class and to a view of work as personal choice and locus of meaning.
"An idea of individual work," she argues, "has replaced the sense of work as a common condition, thereby contributing to the liberation of capital from the constraints it encountered when it had to deal with the constraints of a collective force."
Any notions of class have been swept under the carpet: we only have a middle class now - however nebulous it may be - according to the main political parties.
The cover has an unfortunate similarity to the imperial Japanese flag that is somewhat off-putting but what is inside this small volume provides a very useful contribution to the debate about communism, the party and how to effectively challenge capitalism.