You’re interested in learning more about socialism and its history, but you aren’t sure where to begin. There’s just so much information out there, and some of it, particularly where theory is concerned, can initially appear quite complex. Intimidating even. And when you find yourself in spaces with those who appear to have a fair understanding of the information, it can be easy to feel alienated, as though you don’t belong in the “club”. know that I did. I often still do.
Personally, I found that taking the time to learn on my own, at my own pace, was extraordinarily helpful. Being able to review introductory information free of judgment or scrutiny helped me build confidence. This doesn’t mean that all learning should take place outside of a group environment where teaching takes place and ideas are challenged. But setting aside personal time to gain an understanding of the basics can greatly benefit your experience when you do participate in a group environment.
I’ve compiled a list of resources that I feel to be essential components of a broader understanding of socialism (and its history), colonialism, capitalism (and the oppressions inherent to capitalism), and resistance to exploitation. A few of the pieces are challenging, particularly the Himani Bannerji book, which I’d recommend reading after you’ve completed at least a few from the list. This list is hardly exhaustive, and undoubtedly, there are many other titles that perhaps should have been included. Drawing on a decade of organizing, activism, and educational work, this is a list that I feel comfortable sharing. When possible, PDFs were shared.
Mimi Soltysik – Educator, Maggie Phair Institute
“The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon (PDF) – http://abahlali.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Frantz-Fanon-The-Wretched-of-the-Earth-1965.pdf
“The Assassination of Fred Hampton” by Jeffrey Haas – https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/6561790-the-assassination-of-fred-hampton
“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – http://www.beacon.org/An-Indigenous-Peoples-History-of-the-United-States-P1164.aspx
“The Socialist Imperative” by Michael Lebowitz – https://monthlyreview.org/product/socialist_imperative/
“Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur (PDF) – https://libcom.org/files/assataauto.pdf
“Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano – https://monthlyreview.org/product/open_veins_of_latin_america/
“Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation” by Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams – https://monthlyreview.org/product/creating_an_ecological_society/
“Thinking Through: Essays on Feminism, Marxism, and Anti-Racism” by Himani Bannerji – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/627138.Thinking_Through
“The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs” by Ray Ginger – https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/839-the-bending-cross
“October” by China Mieville – https://www.versobooks.com/books/2731-october
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire (PDF) – https://selforganizedseminar.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/freire_pedagogy_oppresed1.pdf
“Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements” by Victoria Law – https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=502
“Ya Basta!: Ten Years of the Zapatista Uprising” by Subcomandante Marcos – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3618._Ya_Basta_
“Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches” by Audre Lorde – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32951.Sister_Outsider
“The History of the Russian Revolution” by Leon Trotsky (PDF) – https://www.marxists.org/ebooks/trotsky/history-of-the-russian-revolution/ebook-history-of-the-russian-revolution-v1.pdf
“The Assassination of Lumumba” by Ludo De Witte – https://www.versobooks.com/books/792-the-assassination-of-lumumba