Socialist reading suggestions
A few times I’ve been asked about recommended reading for learning more about socialism. I’m not entirely sure what it was that made it ‘click’, but I thought I’d try to put together a list nevertheless.
In a lot of cases they’re not specifically socialist/communist books. A lot of what has shaped my politics has been studying history and looking at it in light of socialist ideas and having the new information reinforce those ideas; so while for example Empire of Cotton (below) isn’t really socialist (the author’s a liberal academic), I think it’s great for learning more about the interrelations between capitalism and imperialism and slavery.
Not on the list: Capital (because it’s definitely not an introductory read, even though I think it’s worth reading eventually); Communist Manifesto (because even though it’s an easier read, I don’t necessarily think it’s more applicable to the current situation).
I’ve included links to publishers where I know them. (e.g., Verso etc).
Some books that had an impact at some point (roughly in chronological order of when I read them, so I stand by the later recommendations more than the earlier ones):
- Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays;
- Zinn, A People’s History of the United States;
- Chomsky, Understanding Power: didn’t finish but first half was good;
- (maybe) Klein, No Logo;
- Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent;
- Losurdo, Liberalism: a Counter-History: lots went over my head, but what I understood was good;
- Carr, The Russian Revolution, a good short-ish history that isn’t
- alternatively/additionally Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, which covers a few more years and is easier to get hold of;
- Cockshott, Towards a New Socialism;
- Beckert, Empire of Cotton: not specifically about communism but it’s
a good history of capitalism;
- maybe also Williams, Capitalism and Slavery;
- Griffith, Politics of the Judiciary: the impact of class on the British legal system;
- Miliband, Class War Conservatism;
- Smith/Mac, Revolting Prostitutes: again not specifically about communism but things like work and rights.
Some that had less of an impact on me, but still worth a read (they were sort of preaching to the converted by the time I read them):
- Harvey, Seventeen Contradictions: examining the inherent instability of capitalism;
- Eagleton, Why Marx was Right: basically taking a series of myths about communism/Marxism and debunking them.
Maybe more niche: