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Books for changing the world

State, Power, Socialism

Across the world, people are facing the impacts of the Coronavirus crisis with the far-right on the rise and, in some cases, in power. Globally, a viable left-wing alternative movement that prioritizes people over profit is urgently needed. In the US, a growing socialist movement seeks to confront and defeat Trump's toxic mixture of racism, misogyny, isolationism, and empty “anti-establishment” posturing, as well as the bi-partisan status quo that gave him room to rise. But in the wake of Bernie Sanders' suspension of his presidential campaign, socialists and other leftists are grappling with profound questions about their strategic orientation toward electoral politics, the Democratic Party, the state, and power.

We've put together a reading list of books that deal with topics related to the state, power, and socialism across the globe and throughout history—bringing together classic Marxist interventions on reform and revolution, important historical treatments, and conjunctural arguments about strategy and tactics. All of them are currently 30% Off.

This timely, urgent book from one of our most influential thinkers offers a bracing positive shock of its own, helping us understand just how we got here, and how we can, collectively, come together and set a bold course for winning the fair and caring world we want and need.

"I've been waiting for someone to write this book—a lighthearted, easy read that packs an intro course on socialism into a short volume. With jokes that made me laugh out loud, and a lot of heart." —Sarah Jaffe

The Socialist Challenge Today presents an essential historical, theoretical, and critical perspective for understanding the potential as well as the limits of three important recent phenomena: the Sanders electoral insurgency in the United States; the Syriza experience in Greece; and Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. 

Offering a broad historical perspective, Selfa shows how the Democratic Party has time and again betrayed the aspirations of ordinary people while pursuing an agenda favorable to Wall Street and U.S. imperial ambitions.

"This timely volume provides much needed analysis not only of race and criminalization in modern American history, but of the specific roles played by a bi-partisan electoral elite, the corporate sector, and the new black political class in producing our current onslaught of police killings and mass incarceration in the years since the Voting Rights Act’s passage." —Donna Murch

Europe in Revolt examines the key parties and figures behind the post-2008 insurgency, with insider coverage of the roots of the social crisis—and the radicals seeking to reverse it—in Cyprus, England, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

This edited volume grapples with the theoretical, analytical, and strategic questions posed by the recent experience of the radical left in Greece.

Throughout the 2000s Latin America formed the leading edge of anti-neoliberal resistance. But what is left of the "pink tide" today? How have governments established in its wake related to a changing global economy and a right-wing resurgence? In this penetrating volume, Jeffery Webber traces evolving, often contradictory relationships between left-wing governments and the social movements that propelled them to power.

On New Terrain challenges conventional wisdom about a disappearing working class and the inevitability of a two-party political structure as the only framework for struggle and includes extensive discussion about the left and the Democratic Party. Through in-depth study of the economic and political shifts at the top of society, Moody shows how recent developments in capitalist production impact the working class and its power to resist the status quo. 

Late Green Party leader and prominent socialist-activist Peter Camejo tells the story of his life of struggle.

From the dawning of the industrial epoch, wage earners have organized themselves into unions, fought bitter strikes, and gone so far as to challenge the very premises of the system by creating institutions of democratic self-management aimed at controlling production without bosses. With specific examples drawn from every corner of the globe and every period of modern history, this pathbreaking volume comprehensively traces this often underappreciated historical tradition.

This new, authoritative introduction to Rosa Luxemburg’s two most important works presents the full text of Reform or Revolution and The Mass Strike, with explanatory notes, appendices, and introductions.

As both historical document and political statement, State and Revolution's importance can hardly be exaggerated. It was here that Lenin justified his personal interpretation of Marxism and set out his trenchant views on class conflict, the lessons of earlier revolutions, the dismantling of the bourgeois state, and the replacement of capitalism by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

An expertly selected collection of articles on class, party, and revolution from one of the world’s most important socialist journals.

In exploring the question: "What do we mean by socialism?,” Hal Draper argues genuine liberation can be won only through self-emancipation.

Focuses on Lenin's approach to electoral politics and what he and other Marxists terms the institutions of bourgeois democracy, drawing on Bolshevik debates and Marx and Engels' own writings to show this to be a central feature of their revolutionary strategy.

Orator, organizer, self-taught scholar, presidential candidate, and prisoner, Eugene Debs’ lifelong commitment to the fight for a better world is chronicled in this unparalleled biography by historian Ray Ginger. This moving story presents the definitive account of the life and legacy of the most eloquent spokesperson and leader of the U.S. labor and socialist movements.

Discusses five episodes which offer inspiring glimpses of the way in which workers rise to the challenge of fighting for a better world—and pose their own alternative to the system. Although none of these struggles ultimately achieved their goals, they were "revolutionary rehearsals" that hold important lessons about the struggle for socialism under modern conditions.

Uncritically lauded by the left and impulsively denounced by the right, the Cuban Revolution is almost universally viewed one dimensionally. Farber, one of its most informed left-wing critics, provides a much-needed critical assessment of the revolution’s impact and legacy.

When the Nicaraguan Revolution overthrew the Somoza Regime in 1979, it inspired radicals across the globe. And yet its promise and potential was extinguished by the early 1990s. This insightful and penetrating analysis traces the origins of this failure to politics of the Sandinistas, specifically their lack of rank-and-file democracy that left all power in the hands of Daniel Ortega. 

Too often the story of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution is told with an excessive focus on former president Hugo Chávez. In this history from below, Dario Azellini turns our attention toward the ways workers, peasants, and the poor in urban communities have led the struggle for 21st century socialism.

Evo Morales rode to power on a wave of popular mobilizations against the neoliberal policies enforced by his predecessors. Yet many of his economic policies bare striking resemblance to the status quo he was meant to displace. Based in part on dozens of interviews with leading Bolivian activists, Jeffery R. Webber examines the contradictions of Morales' first term in office.

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