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 ofMarxist intellectuals. They are needed both to propagandise against the dominant ideology, and to scientifically analyse the political and economic problems of the day to benefitthe 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.

Classical Marxist Reading List

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.

Contemporary Reading List


Materialist Philosophy:

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’sworkl.

·    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
·    DennetDarwin’s Dangerous Idea

Historical Materialism

Political economy

Capitalist economy:

·                            Marx: Wages Prices and Profit
·                            Marx, Capital Volume 1
·                            Marx, Capital Volume 3
·                            Farjoun and Machover - The Laws of Chaos
nA modern explanation of why the labour theory of value operates using concepts from statistical physics.
·                            Sraffa - Production of Commodities by means of Commodities
nA 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
nA 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.

Pre-capitalist Economy

·                            Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies ,
·                            Engels : Origin of the Family
·                            Aristotle: The Politics, book 1

Socialist Economy

·                            Marx: Critique of the Gotha Programme
nProvides a seminal account of the principles of production and distribution under socialism.
·                            Stalin: Economic Problems of Socialism 
nTo 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
nTo 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 ZuseBerlin, 2001
·                            DietrichFin del Capitalismo global. El Nuevo Proyecto Histórico Available in many languages.

Politics and the State

·    Marx:                               
Communist Manifesto,

The Civil War in France,

·    Draper: Karl Marx´s Theory of Revolution
·    Lenin:                              
What is to be Done,

The State and Revolution,

The Impending  Catastrophe and How to Combat it,


Analysis of the classes in Chinese Society

On Contradiction

·    Moses Finlay: Democracy Ancient and Modern
·    Aristotle: The Politics, books 4,5,6
nThis is to be read as backup to Finlay. He provides a clear conception of the relationship between wealth and power in democracies and aristocracies.