I was raised in southwest Missouri. Let’s say it wasn’t exactly a hotbed of socialism. However, Bernie Sanders made it possible for the word to be more than a way to shut someone down when you didn’t like what they were saying.
I had read the Communist Manifesto (CM) in summer 2014, but it didn’t start to hit home until the next summer. I had just learned I probably wouldn’t make it as an academic, and so I while I was looking for a job, I read the CM again with new eyes. What could I attain if I didn’t have capital? Why should a third of my life (my labor) be owned by a very small group of people to do with it whatever they whim?
Since there weren’t any socialist groups around, I did a lot of stumbling around in the dark in making a self-directed reading list. But I found some promising leads.
First, I Found Some Resource Lists
- Movimiento Anti-Imperialista– Admittedly, I saw this list on r/communism first, but it is from an Italian communist movement. Since I don’t read Italian, I’m happy a friendly redditor translated it into English (aside: it appears that “proletariat” [“proletarios” meaning workers in Italian] is a faster way of saying “worker class”).
- Marxists Internet Archive– This is a treasure house of Marxist literature. Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao- they’re all here with many others.
- Freedom Socialist Party– Founded in 1966, this American Trotskyist party emphasizes revolutionary feminism as its lens of socialism. They have tons on their reading list as well as more tons of study guides.
- Socialist Appeal– Socialist Appeal is now apparently Socialist Revolution as of August 2, 2017. I haven’t read anything about it, other than it looks like rebranding. Anyway, these comrades have resources for days, too. They are another American Trotskyist party, part of the International Marxist Tendency.
- From Marx to Mao– According to the webmaster’s statement of purpose, the title of his site is a misnomer, since his intention was to remedy a dearth of Lenin and Stalin texts at the Marxists Internet Archive. If this used to be the case (it doesn’t look like the person has updated much since around 2003), the MIA remedied it since. The major thing I value, anyway, is the person’s reading list, which includes basic readings as well as further reading on various topics.
So if you want to move from
this to this
then you have to read at least these ten works most mentioned on the commie webz:
Finally, the Top 10 (or 17) List
So I really tried for the 10 most mentioned, but with several mentions tying for spots, it ended up at 17.
Manifesto of the Communist Party Marx and Engels 5 Wages, Price, and Profit (AKA “Value, Price, and Profit”) Marx 5 Socialism: Utopian and Scientific Engels 5
The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism Lenin 4 State and Revolution Lenin 4
Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder Lenin 3 Capital, vol. 1 Marx 3 Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism Lenin 3
German Ideology Marx and Engels 2 The Transitional Program Trotsky 2 What Is to Be Done? Lenin 2 Theses on Feuerbach Marx 2 “The Paris Commune” (From The Civil War in France) Marx 2 Anti-Duhring Engels 2 Wage-Labor and Capital Marx 2 The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State Engels 2 Critique of the Gotha Program Marx 2
So you see, you might be able to make your own top ten from this, such as read the top 8, and then pick two from the bottom 9. There are also important works missing from the list, such as Rosa Luxemburg’s “Reform or Revolution?” or Trotsky’s “Permanent Revolution.” But this is a start.
I welcome any critiques, additions, subtractions, how-could-you-not-include-this’s, praises, offerings, sacrifices, or clarifications you might have, particularly since I’ve only read two of these. Admittedly, I am a noob. But we are in this together, since the propaganda machine against socialism/Marxism/communism/etc.ism has been so effective, that most people don’t know that a rich literary tradition exists behind the cloak of conservative polemics. I might end up reading most or all of these texts and not find some of them helpful. If that’s the case, I’ll write a scathing review.
If you find this helpful, retweet it, share it on Facebook, or put it on your Trapper Keeper.
Dream big and stay safe, comrades.