I have managed to recover from the wayback machine a couple of Marxist reading lists. One of these I had on my old Reality site. The second is one that was prepared in the early 1970s by Theoretical Practice and provided the basis for study groups attended by me and a number of people who have remained collaborators with me down to the present.
Contemporary reading list
The aim of this list is to provide students, either individually or as groups with a systematic study list that will prepare them to be Marxist thinkers in the 21st century.
It is always necessary to train new generations of Marxist intellectuals. They are needed both to propagandise against the dominant ideology, and to scientifically analyse the political and economic problems of the day to benefit the oppressed.Their training has, as ever, to be carried out largely beyond the official structure of the educational system. The education system does not intend to produce Marxists, but it does provide critical students with time and access to books which they can use to educate themselves.
Such education should ideally be a collective process. Study circles should be set up who will meet weekly to discuss works that they read collectively.The groups can then go on to the stages of propaganda and conjunctural analysis.
Here we give a collection both of Marxist and non-marxist materialist writers. The aim is to provide a philosophical background to the materialist thesis of the primacy of matter over ideas. The classical Marxist position is set out by Lenin, Plekanov and Engels.
Althusser provides a relatively modern philosophical commentary on this position. His work is also relevant for its concept of idelological state apparatuses and their role in the constitution of the subject. The main ideological state apparatus has historically been religion, and Kautsk’s work provides an exellent analysis of the economic and political conditions giving rise to Christian ideology.
Turing’s work is central to understanding the relationship between human thought and computation. It provides some philosophical background to the ideas investigated in the section on socialist economy. This same philosophical school of materialism is continued in Dennet’s work.
- Engels : Ludwig Fuerbach
- Darwin: The Origins of the Species.
- Plekanov: The Materialist Conception of History
- Lenin: Materialism and Empiro-Criticism
- Kautsky : Origins of Christianity
- Turing: Can a Machine Think
- Althusser : Lenin and Philosophy
- Dennet: Consciousness Explained
- Dennet: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
- Marx: Wages Prices and Profit
- Marx, Capital Volume 1
- Marx, Capital Volume 3
- Farjoun and Machover – The Laws of Chaos
A modern explanation of why the labour theory of value operates using concepts from statistical physics.
- Sraffa – Production of Commodities by means of Commodities
A very systematic attempt to extend the mathematical basis of Marx’s transformation technique in Volume 3 of Capital to a generalised system of commodity production. Also introduces key concepts of input/output analysis that have to be understood from the standpoint of analysis of socialist planning. This book is very important, but a number of revisionist interpretations have been put forward based on it. One should read it critically in the context of the work of Farjoun and Machover.
- Kalecki – Selected Essays on the Dynamics of the Capitalist Economy, 1933-1970,1971
A collection of essays that extends Marx’s analysis of reproduction in Capital Volume 3 to handle dynamics. A particularly important point here is to get an understanding of the difference between the dynamic determination of profit levels by Kalecki’s equations and Marx’s analysis of the conditions of existence of profit.
- Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies ,
- Engels : Origin of the Family
- Aristotle: The Politics, book 1
- Marx: Critique of the Gotha Programme
Provides a seminal account of the principles of production and distribution under socialism.
- Stalin: Economic Problems of Socialism
To be read critically as a presentation of the orthodox Soviet account of the relationship between plan and market in previously existing socialism.
- Nove: Economics of feasible socialism
To be read critically as an attack on socialist planning from a non-marxian socialist position along with an advocacy of market socialism
The following 3 texts have independently arrived at a common conception of 21st century socialism based on the labour theory of value, cybernetic technology and direct democracy.
- Cockshott and Cottrell: Towards a new Socialism
- Arno Peters:, Computer Sozialismus:Gespräche mit Konrad Zuse, Berlin, 2001
- Dietrich: Fin del Capitalismo global. El Nuevo Proyecto Histórico Available in many languages.
Politics and the State
The Civil War in France,
- Draper: Karl Marx´s Theory of Revolution
What is to be Done,
The State and Revolution,
The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat it,
Analysis of the classes in Chinese Society
- Moses Finlay: Democracy Ancient and Modern
- Aristotle: The Politics, books 4,5,6
This is to be read as backup to Finlay. He provides a clear conception of the relationship between wealth and power in democracies and aristocracies.
— end of first list
Advanced Basic Course in Marxist-Leninist Politics
Theoretical Practice Editorial Board
This list was originally prepared by the editors of the Althusserian review Theoretical Practice in the 1970s. It was used by a number marxist study groups in Britain during the 70s and also provided the starting point for a number of other lists prepared by other groups. It is very comprehensive within the area of Marxist Leninist politics. It does not cover a number of areas that are now important. It is weak on political economy and weak on the theory of socialism, but that reflects the idelological state of development of the Communist movement in general of that period. I retrieved a copy from Mike Gane about 10 years back and scanned in the old typescript.
This programme is based upon twelve fundamental aspects of Marxist theory and practice. The readings given have been, selected as the best and most accessible Sources in the particular questions. No attempt has been made to “cover” the various Marxist- Leninist writers rather we have sought to present those works that “cover” the p particular problems. It is therefore not surprising that Marx and Engel’s writings are seldom cited, since their work preceded the decisive era of Marxist-Leninist political struggle ( the era of Imperialism) therefore the key writers of that era, Lenin and Mao and their advances in theory and practice, their developments of Marxism, who are given prominence. Texts have therefore been included on the basis that they either represent valuable summaries of more scattered: works of Marxism Leninism or develop important aspects of Marxist-Leninist theory.
It will be noted that the same works have frequently been cited in different sections: here possible the relevant section of the work cited has been it is often the case that the work as a whole must be read to situate a particular point. In this case the work should be read in toto in each of the particular sections. This may seem laborious but it does have a distinct advantage: it encourages people to read texts with determinate problems in view, with a distinct objective, rather than to approach the text as and seek to tease out of it an essential “message”.
In the study programme the content of a work or the reasons for citing is are rot always given. They are given in three cases:
- when the work does not, on superficial inspection, seem to deal with the problem: considered
- when the work considered is difficult, e.g. “The Critique of the Gotha Programme”
- When the work cited is in several sections.
The programme has been constructed on a dual basis:
in each section a programme of basic reading for these sessions of one week each is given,
certain sections of particular contemporary relevance, e.g. the party, have been broken down into more detailed sections to permit more intensive study
The total standard programme takes 36 weeks. However, depending on the character of the particular group, its interests and the time available this can either be lengthened by the detailed study of particular sections or more detailed follow-up work can be continued after the basic programme is completed
Advanced Basic Study Programme topics
I: The Party
II: Relation between Levels of Struggle
III: Parliamentary and Extra-Parliamentary Struggle IV: Deviations
V: The State and it’s Forms
VII: The Dictatorship of tae Proletariat
VIII: Political and Economic Tasks in the Construction of Socialism
IX: Cultural al Revolution and the Mass Line
XI: Proletarian Internationalism
XII People’s War
Advanced Basic Reading List
(works NOT available in the current one-volume Selected Works of Marx and Engel’s (Lawrence and Wishart 1968), three-volume Selected Works of Lenin (Progress Publishers, Moscow 1967) and the four-volume Selected of Mao Tse-Tung: Foreign Languages Press Peking 1967) are- signalled thus The Stalin section: are to be found in Problems of Leninism (F.L.P.H. Moscow,1947).
Lenin is to be Done?”
Lenin: “Left-Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder” Sections 1 and 10. 1
Stalin: “On the Problems of Leninism” Section 5
Stalin: “The Foundations of’ Leninism” Section 8,
Advanced Basic Reading by Subtopics
The Necessity of Party Organization and its Tasks
Lenin: “What is to be Done’?” Sections 3e 4 and 5. These Sections deal with the Party’s role of leadership and the necessity of an efficient national organization
- Party Organization and Democratic Centralism:
Lenin:”One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”
- The Task of the Party in tae Period of Dual Power and Insurrection (see also the Section VI on Insurrection)
Lenin: “On Slogans” This indicates the Party’s role in leading and developing the mass struggle and the relation between theoretical analysis Of’ the political conjuncture and political programmes.
Lenin: “On Compromises”
Lenin: “The crisis has Matured (optional)
Lenin: “Marxism and Insurrection” The role of the Party in leading and organizing the seizure of power.
Stalin:”The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists” Section 3.
- The Task of the- Party in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and in the construction of Socialism:
Lenin: “can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?” Lenin: “Once More on the Trade Unions…” Stalin: “On the Problems of Leninism” Section 5. e: Party and class:
Lenin: “‘hat is to be Done?” Section 2. Indicates the relation of the Party to the spontaneous positions and of the masses.
Stalin: “On the Problems of Leninism” Section 5. Relations between Party and class in the era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Relations Between Levels Of Struggle
Lenin: “What is to be Done?”
Lenin: “On Slogans”
ADVANCED BASIC READING BY Subtropics:
The Relation between Theory and Politics:
Marx: Letter to Bracke May 5 1875.
Marx shows the conjuncture of the writing of the “Critique of the Gotha Programme” he discusses the famous slogan, “Every step of real Movement is more important than a dozen programmes” pointing, out that the formation of a programme involves a lengthy consideration of the relations between factions and the hammering out of the theoretical principles which Guide the formulation of a programme, he points out the crucial importance of a solid theoretical basis for the programme he distinguishes a tactical compromise concerned with the struggle against a “common enemy” from the formulation of a programme on principles agreed by various factions and the disastrous consequences, of conflating the two.
Distinguish between economism, (artificial restriction of all struggles to economic struggles) and the lending of the economic itself a political character (the crucial characteristic of reformist trades union politics) where politics is equated with the representation Of essentially economic demands ( in, the last instance referring to the rate of remuneration of labour power) at the political level.
Marx: “Critique of the Gotha Programme”
Here Marx shows the relation: between petit-bourgeois economic theory with it’s inability to define the class nature of the economic level and populist /reformist cringing before t 11e existing form of state which is treated as a political/theoretical given.
- Engels : Letter to Bebel March ’18-28 1875.
- Ideology and Politics
Marx: Letter to Bracke ‘
Marx: “Critique of the Gotha Programme”
Lenin: “On Slogans” The correctness of a slogan can only be “deduced from the totality of the specific features of a definite political situation” (Lenin).
PARLIAMENTARY AND EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY STRUGGLE
Lenin: “Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”
Lenin: “Left-wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder”
Engels: Introduction to Marx: “Class Struggles in France” (1895).
Lenin:”Two Tactics of Social Democracy…” Section 9. Points out that the ideology of “extreme opposition” (i.e. of non-participation in the provisional government in the period of democratic revolution) falls into two crucial errors.:
- it leads to leading tire masses into mass struggle purely for the benefit of the bourgeoisie”
- this attitude leads inevitably not only to abstentionism in respect of ;bourgeois political institutions but also to abstentionism in respect of revolutionary struggle per se (Menshevik purists).
Lenin: “Left-Wing Communism…” Section 7. Lenin demonstrates how abstentionism derives from petit-bourgeois subjectivism’ and ignorance of the consciousness of the masses, , in the identification of the position of the vanguard with that of tire masses. The attachment Of the masses to parliamentary democracy can be combated only by a 10119 struggle within parliament and a combination of legal an illegal struggle
Legal and Illegal Struggle:
Engels: Introduction to Marx: “The Class Struggles in France” (1895 ). Engels shows the importance of parliamentary struggle as a weapon against repression and against bourgeois control of the State Ideological Apparatuses. He stresses the necessity of avoiding a fetishism of certain insurrectionary tactics NB. This text was used for the purposes of peaceful road revisionism and may be so again. Engel’s attitude to W.Liebkniecht’s omissions from and distortions of his text at the, time of its first publication must be referred to ; they are contained in Engels’ letters to Kautsky (April 1 1895 ) and Lafargue ( April 13 1895 ).
Marx: “The Critique of the Gotha Programme”
Mao: “On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party”
Petit-bourgeois ideology and deviations. source of major deviation in the petit-bourgeois ideology of economic and political analysis divorced from class analysis shows the petit-bourgeois nature of the vulgarisation of the labour’ theory of value and its connection utopian bourgeois egalitarianism the concept of people’s state.
Mao : “On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party” To present a list of the major deviations here would be pointless as they are best studied in relation to the particular conjunctures at which they arise. Programmatic texts which relate a number of deviations are Mao ‘s text is of this kind because the struggle against petit-bourgeois ideology in the area of military struggle and in respect of the ideology of the peasantry was particularly severe.
THE STATE AND ITS FORMS
Engels : Introduction (1891) to Marx “The Civil War in France”.
Lenin: “The State and Revolution”
Marx: “The Civil War in France”
The Bourgeois State Machine: Lenin:”The State, and. Revolution” Chaps 1 ,2, 3,4. Stresses the necessity for analysing, the class basis of the state and the, origin of the state in class society, criticizes Petit bourgeois Utopianism.
Marx:”The Civil War in France”
Engels : Introduction to Marx:”Civil War in France”.
Marx and Engels’ summary of the experience of the Commune, analysis of advance of the new form of state, criticism of the Commune for failing to prosecute the Dictatorship of the Proletariat at the national level; criticism referring to the political strategy of the Commune, not to its class basis.
- The ‘Transformation of the Form of the State; The State, the Party and the Economic Level:
Lenin:”Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin”. Stresses the necessity for correct analysis of the relation between the political and economic levels in the era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Stresses that politics should be put in command. critique of the commandist deviation in respect of the trade unions. (Compare the section on political and economic tasks in the construction of socialism – VIII below )
- State Power, Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat:
Lenin: “The proletarian Revolution on and the Renegade Kautsky”. Critique of Kautsky’s petit bourgeois attack on the Russian revolution; Kautsky treats dictatorship as a form of government rather than a form of State. Lenin demonstrates the dependence’ Of ‘forms of government On the detention of state power.
Stalin: “The Foundations of Leninism” Section 4 (cf “Critique of tile Gotha Programme” ).
Lenin: “The, Dual Power”
Lenin: “Marxism, and Insurrection”
Lenin “On Slogans”
The Complexity of the Revolutionary Situation and Class Alliances
Lenin: Letters from Afar”: First Letter. Lenin demonstrates how the revolutionary situation derives from complex contradictions between all classes and poses the problem of defining the proletariat’s friends and enemies
The creation of a new form of state must be combined with parliamentary struggle and that ideological and political must continue within the new form of state (attack on cringing before spontaneism).
- Lenin “On Slogans” Demonstrates the danger of bourgeois control of the new state institutions and the necessity for the independence of the Party from these institutions; the decision to call for insurrection must be in the hands of the Party.
- The Decision to Call for Insurrection:
Lenin:”Marxism and Insurrection”
Lenin: “The Bolsheviks must Assume Power” : the distinction between Marxism and Blanquism.
THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
Lenin: ‘The State and Revolution’
Marx: ‘Tic Civil War in France’ (with Engels’ 1891 Introduction)
Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism Sect 4
The necessity for the maintenance and yet transformation of the State apparatus:
Lenin: ‘State and Revolution’ Ch 4 and Ch-5 Sections 1 & 2
Lenin: ‘The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky’
Economics and politics in the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat
Marx to Weydemer March 3rd 1852;
Engels to Bebel, March 19th-28th 1875;
Engels to Van Patten, ‘ March 151,:1 1883;
Engels to Bernstein, January 1st 1884.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is the dictatorship of the class through new forms of State institution under the leadership of the Party:
Engels: Introduction to ‘The Civil War in France’ (1891)
Lenin: ‘The State and Revolution’ Ch.3
Marx and Engels the Communist Manifesto’ Section 2
Lenin: ‘The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky section on Bourgeois and Proletarian Democracy, Can there be Equality between the Exploiters «m: the Exploited The Soviets Dare not become State Organization::, and The Soviet Constitution.
Stalin: ‘The foundations of Lenin-m’ Section 4
Stalin: ‘On the Problem:s of I/Leninism eticn 5
Contradictions among the people and the relation between the proletariat.: and other classes3:
Mao: ‘On the Correct handling of Contradictions among, the People’
+ Stalin: ‘On the Problems of Leninism’ Section 4
Lenin: ‘Third Congress of the Communist International: – Theses for a Report on the Tactics of the RCr,’
Lenin: ‘The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky’, section on Bourgeois and Proletarian Democracy ‘
Lenin: ‘The State and Rcvolution;’ Ch-3 Section 3
Lenin: ‘The State and Revolution’ Ch.4 Sections 2,3
Engels: ‘On Authority’
Marx: ‘Critique of the Gotha Program’ Section 4
Lenin: ‘The State and Revolution’ Ch.4 Section 4
Engels: ‘Critique of the Social-Democratic Draft Programme (Erfurt Programme)’ + B.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC TASKS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIALISM
- Lenin: ‘Left-Wing Childishness and Petty-Bourgeois Mentality’
- Lenin: ‘Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’
- Lenin: ‘The Tax in Kind’ Lenin: ‘On Co-operation’
Stalin: ‘On the Problems of Leninism’ Sections 6 7
No Advanced. Basic Reading.
CULTURAL REVOLUTION AND MASS LINE
The Mode of Struggle among the People
Mao: ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People’ +
ldeological struggle and the; construction of socialism.:
Mao: ‘ Speech at the CCP’s National Conference on Propaganda Work’ +
Mao: ‘Combat Liberalism’
Lenin: ‘Speech at the All-Russian Conference of Political Education Workers ‘
The Socialist Stag, Proletarian Democracy and the Class Struggle:
Lenin: ‘Better Fewer but Better’
Mao : ‘Bombard the Headquarters’ +
IMPERIALISM AND MONOPOLY CAPITALISM
Lenin: Imperialism the: Highest Stage of Capitalism’
Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism’ +
Lenin: War and Russian Social Democracy’
Lenin: ‘Socialism and War’ +
ADVANCED BASIC READING BY SUBTOPIC
Imperialism as a stage of the uneven development of capitalism:
Lenin: Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, Sections 5-7
Imperialism as a specific stage of capitalist development and its characteristics:
Lenin: ‘Imperialism, the: Highest Stag, of Capitalism’ Suctions 7 & a The specific characteristics of monopoly capitalism should here be compared with the writings of Marx and Engels an the, form of imperialist penetration at earlier stages of capitalist development
Marx: ‘The British rule in India’ +
Marx: ‘The Future Results of the British Role in India +
Marx: Capital Vol One ch. 25 the section on Ireland and Ch-31.
Imperialism and war:
Political characteristics: Ultra-imperialism:
Lenin: ‘Imperialism, M Highest.Stage of Capitalism, Section 9 Social Democracy and the Labour Aristocracy:
Lenin: ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism’ Sections 9 & 10; ‘The War and Russian Social Democracy & the Collapse of the Second International + The Fight against. Social Chauvinism’ +
Proletarian Internationalism in the Period of imperialist War:
Lenin: ‘On the Slogan “For a United States of Europe”‘
Lenin: ‘Defeat of one’s own Government in the Imperialist War’ +
Lenin: ‘Proposals Submitted by the Central Committee of the RSDLP to the Second Socialist Conference April 1916
Imperialism, the war and nationalist struggles:
Lenin: ‘Discussion of Self-Determination Summed Up’ +
Lenin: ‘The of Nations to Self-determination
Lenin: ‘Socialism and War’ +
Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism’ Sections 1, 3 A 6 In sections 1 & 3, Stalin discusses briefly and clearly the following questions:
- the conjuncture in which Leninism works i.e., imperialism, the world-scale of the contra-dictions of capitalism in that conjuncture, , and the necessity the international character or the proletarian revolution;
- the character of Russia as the ‘weakest link’ the system of imperialist states;
- the position of the Second International and the permanentists (Parvus, Trotsky) , i.e. , in the former case the ‘separation’ of the bourgeois-democratic. and proletarian involutions, narrow concentration on winning a majority of the proletariat in the imperialist countries, waiting for the development of capitalism and restricting the struggle in colonial and semi-colonial countries to ‘bourgeois’ demands, and in the Otter, conceiving the relation of the bourgeois-democratic and proletarian revolutions from the stand-point of the proletariat alone, and neglecting the broad masses of the peasantry, a position leading to the ultra-leftist demand that socialism cannot be built in a largely peasant: country like Russia;
in Section 6 Stalin sumnarizes Lenin’s positions on the revolutionary role of struggles for national liberation, the role of these struggles in weakening and increasing the contradictions of the imperialist system the necessity for a resolutely anti-chauvinist position and for support of the oppressed and colonial masses by the proletariat of the imperialist countries.
ADVANCED BASIC READING BY SUBTOPICS
Each section to take one week except for e, for which (i) and (ii) one week, (iii) and (iv) a second week
Internationalism and Imperialism (i) Struggle of colonial peoples and op pressed national minorities and (ii) the position and tasks of the: proletarian party and the proletariat in imperialist States:
Lenin: ‘Socialists and War’ +
Lenin: ‘The Socialist Revolution and. the Right of Nations to Self-Determination – Theses’ +
Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism’ Sections 1 & 6 b. Permanentism, Leninism and Socialism in One Country.. :
Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism Section 3
Stalin: ‘On the Problems of Leninism’ Section 3 by far the best and most detailed discussion of this question linking the international question with the question of the role of the mass of the peasantry in socialist construction.
Stalin.: ‘The October Revolution and the Russian Communists’ Section 2 -. Discusses Trotsky’s positions and practice in respect to this question in the period of the Russian Revolution; optional to the above.
Errors and deviations
Social Chauvinism: Lenin: ‘Imperialism and the Split in Socialism’ – demonstrates the connexion between the relations of class forces in imperialist states and the opportunism of the Social-Democrats.
Social-Democratic and Liberal positions on the national Question:
Lenin: ‘Critical Remarks on the National Question’ – an earlier and systematic treatment of reactionary positions on the national question, particularly the question of ‘autonomization’ +
Lenin ‘The Right of Nations to Self-Determination on’ Sections 1-5 and 8 – a critique of Rosa Luxemburg.
‘Ultra-Leftist Internationalism’ :
Lenin: ‘The Revolutionary Phrase’ + – exposes the petty-bourgeois character of the ‘lefts’ slogan for ‘revolutionary war’ in opposition to the