Classic reads

Why read 'Left Wing' Communism

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In August 1914 the Second International grouping of socialist parties failed its most important test with catastrophic consequences.

Nearly all the leaders of European socialism collapsed into chauvinism, supporting their own nations' interests in an imperialist war which cost the lives of tens of millions of workers.

One of the few parties to remain against the war throughout was the Bolsheviks in Russia. The experience of war and disillusionment with their leaders led to the radicalisation of workers and soldiers.

Why read...Imperialism and World Economy

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Lenin described Nikolai Bukharin's Imperialism and World Economy as essential to understanding not only the economic basis of imperialism, but also its political and social impact.

The book, which was published at the height of the First World War, set out to prove that the war was not a "descent into madness", or to halt "German militarism", but the consequence of the emergence of imperialism, itself a "higher stage" of capitalism.

Bukharin's work was a reply to the tendency at the time to reduce imperialism "to the level of a cuss-word".

Why read The Junius Pamphlet

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Right up until July 1914 anti-war activity was rife across Europe, led by the socialist parties of the Second International. In the face of growing nationalism Rosa Luxemburg and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) organised mass rallies and the SPD headquarters put out statements confirming their stance against war: "The class conscious proletariat of Germany, in the name of humanity and civilisation, raises a flaming protest against this criminal activity of the warmongers."

Why Read... Lessons of October

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The year 1923 was a decisive year in the history of the international movement. It was the point at which the revolutionary movement sweeping Europe after the victory of the Bolsheviks in 1917 finally broke and began to ebb. And it was also the time at which the Soviet bureaucracy began to firmly consolidate its grip over Russian society.

Why read...The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany

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Trotsky wrote this series of articles in extraordinary times. Germany in the 1930s was hit by a massive crisis that crippled the economy and drove unemployment up to 6 million.

In the conditions of global recession a new movement, fascism, was rising in parts of Europe. In Germany this took the form of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party.

Why read: Leon Trotsky's Results and Prospects

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Can the working class in less developed countries lead a socialist revolution, even when it is not a majority in society?

Leon Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution provides, under certain circumstances, a positive answer to this question.

Trotsky's theory was one of the great developments in Marxism.

Classic read: A Scots Quair

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Lewis Grassic Gibbon, First published 1932

In a small village near Stonehaven in north east Scotland is a museum dedicated to the writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

The centre, near the farm in Arbuthnott where he grew up, is surrounded by the Mearns, the area Grassic Gibbon immortalised through his portrayal of its distinctive speech and culture.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon was the pen name used by James Leslie Mitchell, a revolutionary Marxist until his death.

So You Think You Know About Britain?

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Since I have been teaching geography in East London for over 15 years, it is not surprising that I have chosen a book by a geographer: Danny Dorling's So You Think You Know About Britain?

Danny Dorling has spent the last ten years or so turning out books and maps that analyse and present data that describes and demonstrates inequality on a global and national scale.

The Worldmapper project, for example, presents distorted maps of the globe to show inequalities in wealth, health and education. Dorling's Inequality is also an academic book well worth a look.

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