Introduction to Marxism
You will find below a selection from “classic” works of Marxism and also some short theoretical and historical texts we have written ourselves that summarize Marxist ideas in an accessible way.
What is Capitalism?
Marxism is grounded in an analysis of the economy in order to understand how capitalism operates, how it exploits people, and how it can be defeated
- Sapir, C. What Are the Origins of Private Property? (2020)
- Mandel, E. An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory, (1964, abridged)
- K. Marx and F. Engels,“Bourgeois and Proletarians” from The Communist Manifesto (1848)
- Shaikh, A. “An Introduction to the History of Crisis Theories” (1973)
What is Socialism?
It’s one thing to understand that capitalism is destructive and bad, but what are we fighting for? These readings inform our understanding of the goals and ideals we strive for as socialists.
- LeBlanc, P. “Marxism and Organization” (2011)
- Cannon, J. Socialism on Trial (1941)
- Deutscher, I. “On Socialist Man” (1966)
- Lenin, V. I. Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism (1913)
- Engels, F. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880)
- Trotsky, L. 90 Years of the Communist Manifesto (1937)
What is the State?
Capitalism is not merely an economic system, but also is intertwined with the state, the armed bodies of government such as the police and military. Understanding the role that these forces play and the obstacles that they represent is key to the fight for socialism.
- Crawford, B. The Police: A History of Violence (2020)
- Moreno, N. Revolutions of the XXth Century (1984)
- Thesis on the Police, State Forces of Repression, and Mass Rebellion
- Lenin, V.I. State and Revolution (1917)
What is the Revolutionary Party?
As socialists, how do we organize ourselves? How do we use this organizational form as a tool to further our political work, and how do we avoid the pitfalls associated with political organization? These readings address these questions and make the case for the importance of the revolutionary party.
- Moreno, N. “The political parties and the working class“ (1986)
- Cannon, J. P. “The Revolutionary Party & Its Role in the Struggle for Socialism“ (1967)
- Trotsky, Leon. “On the Soviets and the Party in a Proletarian Revolution” (1924)
- Lenin, V. I. What Is To Be Done?(1901, abridged)
- Mandel, E. “The revolutionary vanguard and spontaneous mass action” from The Leninist Theory of Organisation (1970)
- Moreno, N. Problems of Organization (1984)
What are Imperialism, Anti-Imperialism, and Internationalism?
The following readings inform our understanding of the role that imperialism plays on a global scale, and the need for socialists to oppose imperialism and remain committed to internationalism in our political work.
- Oppen, F. “What Is Imperialism, A Marxist Understanding Part 1” (2018)
- Oppen, F. “What Is Imperialism, A Marxist Understanding Part 2” (2018)
- Dunbar-Ortiz, R. “Stop Saying This Is A Nation Of Immigrants!“ (2006)
- Tolca, U. Immigration and Imperialism (2021)
- Lenin, V. I. “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” (Abridged) (1916)
- Lenin, V. I. “The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination” (Abridged) (1916)
- Lenin. V. I. The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed-Up (1916, Abridged)
- Rodney, W. “The Imperialist Partition of Africa” (1970)
- Lenin, V. I. Resolution on the National Question (Approved at the 7th All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P (Bolshevik)) (April 1917)
- Theses on the National and Colonial Question – Adopted By the Communist International (1920, abridged)
- Trotsky, L. The Russian Revolution and Self-Determination of Oppressed Nationalities (1930)
- Trotsky, L. The Third International After Lenin Part 3: Summary and Perspectives on the Chinese Revolution (1928)
Winning the Fight for Socialism
Movement Tactics and Strategy
How do we engage in the class struggle? As Marxists we hope to both be the best labor militants we can, and to convince other workers to join us in our fight against capitalism. These readings identify tactics that we need to adopt in our political work, as well as tactics that we should avoid.
- Camejo, P. Liberalism, Ultra-Leftism and Mass Action (1970)
- Berger, John “The Nature of Mass Demonstrations” (1968)
- Trotsky, L. On the United Front (1922)
- Lukács, G. “Legality and Illegality“, (1920)
- Trotsky, L. Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism (1913)
Reform or Revolution
One of the central questions within socialist movements since the late 19th century, as revolutionary socialists we believe that these texts clarify the shortcomings of reformist politics on the road to socialism.
- Brenner, R. The Paradox of Reformism: The New Social Democracy and the Jackson Campaign (2016)
- Luxemburg, R. Reform or Revolution? (1900/1908)
- Lenin, V. I. The Collapse of the Second International (1915)
Revolutionaries and Elections
These readings inform our understanding of how revolutionary socialists should understand elections in bourgeois republics such as the United States, and thus further help us decide when and how we should engage with them.
- Workers’ Voice, Revolutionaries and Elections (2018)
- Debs, E. V. Political Appeal to American Workers (1912)
- Lenin, V. I. Theses on the Communist Parties and Parliamentarism (1920)
- P. Camejo and G. Breitman, Should Socialists Work in or Vote for the Democratic Party? (1959/1970)
Understanding and Fighting Oppression
The following readings inform our understanding of where racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression come from, and how to build resilient workers’ movements that can fight against them effectively.
- Workers’ Voice, Our Marxist Approach to Combating Women’s Oppression in Working Class Organizations (2018)
- Kollontai, A. International Women’s Day (1920)
- Rodney, W. “Black Power, a Basic Understanding” , 1968
- Breitman, G. What Racism Is And How To End It (1954/1971)
- James, C.L.R “The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in US” (1948)
- J. Akers-Chacon and M. Davis, No One Is Illegal (Excerpt), 2017
- Sapir, Carlos. The Jewish people and antisemitism in the modern context (2021)
Our political theory and practice is informed by rigorous analysis of historical events, which we analyze in order to learn from past successes and failures. This section is under construction, and will be expanded with readings to progressively cover more and more of working class history.
- Rodney, W. “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” (Excerpt), (1983)
- Sagra, A. The 1952 Bolivian Revolution (2004)
- Taylor, D. “Democracy, apartheid, settler-colonialism: what is Israel?“ (2021)
- Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century (2012)
- Wielmowicki, J. “The National Question in Palestine and Israel” (2018)
- Sapir, C. Palestinian Resistance after 1948 (2021)
- Wielmowicki, J. Trotskyism maintained its defense of the revolutionary position in Palestine (2018)
- SWP – “Resolution on Israel and the Arab Revolution” (1971)
The Paris Commune (1871)
- Ricci, F. Paris Commune: Anticipating the Petrograd Commune (2004)
- Lenoir, M. Some Thoughts on the Paris Commune (2021)
- Jenness, Doug. SWP Report on Puerto Rico (1973)
The Russian Revolution
- Mandel, David. “The Legitimacy of October” (2016)
- Vercammen, François. “Stages of the 1917 Revolution” (1992)
- Trotsky, L. “October and Legality” (1924)
The US Strike Wave of 1934
- Oppen, F. The 1934 Strikes: The historic struggles that got us union recognition rights and social welfare programs (2018)