Check out this selection of writings for an excellent introduction to many of the fundamentals of Marxist theory.

This selection of writings is an excellent introduction to many of the fundamentals of Marxist theory. There are many other writings that could be added, but this selection provides a strong basis for those wishing to equip themselves with the necessary ideas for the daily work of fighting for socialism.

The first task of any budding Marxist is to conquer, to really understand, Marxist theory. Marxists place enormous emphasis on theory not for academic or intellectual reasons, but because we are serious about changing society. We need not just to make this or that change, but to finally do away with class society, oppression and injustice. Such a task requires the utmost clarity, sobriety of thought, and patience. Developing an understanding of the ‘long view of history’, the ebbs and flows of the class struggle and its lessons, is vital if we are to build an organisation capable of meeting these tasks.

But do not be intimidated. We have provided for you a clear, step by step list of Marxist classics, covering all the key areas of theory, from economics to history and philosophy. Here you will also find reading guides for many of these texts, which should help you to understand and apply them. 

Finally, we run many reading groups across the country covering the classics of Marxism. If you are interested in attending one of these, please head over to socialist.net/join and fill out the form. Make sure to tick the box ‘Join an online reading group’ and we’ll be in touch!

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Reading list

We have arranged these in the order we think they are best read. Also check out our separate page with all of our reading guides.

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Alan Woods & Rob Sewell

This is an introduction to all the main aspects of Marxist theory. It is accessible but does not dumb down the theory.

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Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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The Classics of Marxism: Volume 1

Classics of Marxism Vol 1Classics of Marxism Vol 1

This collection comprises four of the most important texts in Marxism, from its four greatest theoreticians. Purchase from Wellred Books as part of the Classics of Marxism Vol 1 (+ ebook).

The founding document of Marxism, more relevant today than when it was written. A masterpiece that manages to sum up Marxist theory and the class struggle in only around 30 pages! Reading guide available (+ PDF).

Friedrich Engels gives an outline of the scientific and materialist theory of history that is Marxism. Reading guide available (+ PDF).

Lenin brilliantly sums up the Marxist theory of the state, why revolutionaries must destroy the bourgeois state, and what they must replace it with. Reading guide available (+ PDF).

Highly relevant for our crisis ridden times, the founding document of the Fourth International outlines the method Marxists must adopt to connect the concrete struggles of the working class with the revolutionary programme of socialism. Reading guide available (+ PDF).

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The Classics of Marxism: Volume 2

Classics of Marxism Vol 1Classics of Marxism Vol 1

Volume two of this collection comprises another five of the most important texts in Marxism, from its four greatest theoreticians. Purchase from Wellred Books as part of the Classics of Marxism Vol 2 (+ ebook).

Marx explains why workers struggles for higher wages are not the cause of inflation, and what the real bases of capitalist crisis are.
Reading guide available (+ PDF).

Marx summarises his economic theory succinctly and clearly. Essential for grasping the laws of capitalism. Reading guide available (+ PDF).

Lenin masterfully criticises ultra-leftism and sectarianism, and explains how revolutionaries must also be flexible in their tactics to win over the majority of workers. Reading guide (+ PDF).

Trotsky eloquently and passionately defends the Russian revolution.

Trotsky explains what Stalinism is and why it is the counter-revolutionary opposite of Bolshevism.

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V.I. Lenin

Lenin’s classic analysis of imperialism, in which he reveals the economic basis of imperialism in highly developed capitalism.

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

A helpful summary with study questions. Download the PDF.

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Karl Marx

Marx very briefly explains the materialist and scientific conception of history.

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Purchase from Wellred Books as part of Marx' Early writings.

Purchase from Wellred Books as part of Marx' Early writings.

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Leon Trotsky

Trotsky very briefly and clearly explains the materialist philosophy of Marxism.

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Purchase from Wellred Books as part of the book In Defence of Marxism (also available as an ebook).

Purchase from Wellred Books as part of the book In Defence of Marxism (also available as an ebook).

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Friedrich Engels

A polemic in which Engels argues forcefully for the correctness of Marxist theory and in doing so gives the reader all the best arguments for scientific socialism.

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Friedrich Engels

A brilliant historical materialist explanation of the profound changes society has passed through. Engels explains the basis of the oppression of women and the state, and how they are not timeless, eternal phenomena, but merely products of history that did not exist for thousands of years, and under socialism will once again cease to exist.

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Purchase from Wellred Books here.

Purchase from Wellred Books here.

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Leon Trotsky

Trotsky explains the decisive importance of revolutionary leadership to successfully overthrowing capitalism.

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Leon Trotsky

Trotsky’s classic analysis of Stalinism and what it means.

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Leon Trotsky

A summary of Trotsky’s theory of revolution in the colonial and backwards parts of the world in the imperialist epoch. Part of Trotsky's larger work on the permanent revolution.

Permanent RevolutionPermanent Revolution

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Ted Grant

A sharp criticism of the sectarianism of the leaders of the Fourth International after Trotsky’s death, and what the real method of Marxism is

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books here.

Purchase from Wellred Books here.

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Alan Woods and Ted Grant

A brilliant defence of Lenin and Trotsky and their democratic, revolutionary methods.

Lenin and Trotsky: What they Really Stood ForLenin and Trotsky: What they Really Stood For

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Adam Booth and Rob Sewell

An easy to understand, chapter by chapter breakdown of Marx’s masterpiece. Also make sure to check out our Capital in a day video series!

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Alan Woods

The real history of the Bolshevik party, the most revolutionary organisation in history. Full of essential lessons for revolutionaries today.

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Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Alan Woods and Ted Grant

A brilliant explanation of Marxist philosophy and how modern science has come to similar conclusions.

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Leon Trotsky

Trotsky’s criticism of petty bourgeois ideas and methods. Important for those wanting to argue against liberal dilettantes.

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Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

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Rob Sewell

A clear and comprehensive history of the German revolution, the reasons why it ultimately failed and led to the fascist counter-revolution. Full of lessons for Marxists today.

Imperialism: The Highest Stage of CapitalismImperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.

Purchase from Wellred Books in paper copy or as an ebook.