Left Communist Reading List

General Information:

Table of Contents:

Introduction to Communism

General Introduction to Communism:

Everyday Life:

Restaurant Work:


Student Life:

Workplace Organizing:

Basic Ultra-Left Positions:

Revolutionary Strategy:

Marx and Engels

1. Introduction: “Read Marx, not the ‘Marxists’!”:

The hardest part about reading Karl Marx is freeing your mind of all of the distortions and lies surrounding Marx’s thought. Starting with the 2nd International, there has been a tendency to read Marx’s thought as a rigid, positivist, determinist, mechanical, and scientific doctrine. Hence the birth of “Marxism”. Let me be clear that Marx would have been appalled how his “loyal” followers bastardized his thought. Stalin and company did not help at all and in fact furthered this tendency by reifying “Marxism” into a state religion, one to justify the powers that be in various ways instead of being their radical critique.

It is time to discard all preconceptions of Marx, whether learned from the popular media, from teachers and professors, or from the “Marxists” of various stripes, including the Orthodox, Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, Trotskyist, and Althusserian varieties. It is time to read Marx for what he was and this means reading Marx down to the letter without the mediating influence of a thousand misconceptions. Only then can we truly see Marx’s thought for what it truly is, a major step towards understanding how the working class can emancipate itself and therefore emancipate humanity, as well as a guide to critiquing the inhumanity of the world we live in and to understanding how we might be able to live humanly as freely associated social individuals in the communist future. There is no such thing as an innocent reading of any important world figure; everyone interpreting Marx has their own agenda in mind. My only hope is that you, the reader, will take the most radical of agendas, the emancipation of the working class and humanity, as well as the “ruthless criticism of all that exists”, and embrace it as their own.

However, we should not only read Marx but also the works of those who worked hard to defend the authentic core of Marx’s thought against various distorted “Marxisms”. This includes reading Anton Pannekoek, Amadeo Bordiga, Guy Debord, Gilles Dauvé, and Cyril Smith.

A remark on Friedrich Engels. “Marxism” treats Engels, Marx’s close friend and collaborator, as essentially a second head of Marx, seeing Engels as being in approximately one hundred percent coherence with Marx on all accounts. In fact, Engels, though closely associated with Marx’s thought, should not be conflated with Marx. Engels was neither a neutral arbiter of Marx’s thought nor did he and Marx agree on all points; rather, he was a great and independent thinker in his own right. Though the way that Engels interpreted Marx made it easier for the 2nd International to distort Marx’s thought into a mechanistic, positivist doctrine, we cannot blame Engels for the way that “Marxism” turned out. “Marxism’s” enormous distortions, innovated by Kautsky, Bernstein, Plekhanov, and company, go far beyond Engels’s miniscule mistakes. However, the point I am trying to get across is that we should read Engels’ self-written works critically and realize that it was a completely different thinker who wrote those pieces, not the second head of Marx.

One last thought on interpreting Marx. We should not take Marx’s thought as some static doctrine thrown down from heaven, applicable in its entirety to any and all circumstances, but rather as a living body of thought. To take Marx’s thought as dogma would be contrary to Marx’s own method of “ruthless criticism of all that exists”, including ruthless criticism of Marx’s thought itself. There are numerous gaps and lacunae in Marx’s works, including large blind spots when it comes to the ever-present problems of race and gender. Marx also wrote for the 19th century and in the 21st century, the economic base and socio-political superstructure have certainly changed a great deal. This is not an invitation to throw the baby out with the bathwater and discard Marx’s thought for some kind of postmodernist relativism, but rather to modernize Marx’s thought for the 21st century while keeping the fundamental invariants of Marxism, including the conception of Communism as “the real movement [of the proletariat] that abolishes the current state of things [i.e. the capitalist mode of production, including private property, class, capital, wage-labor, and commodity production]”.

Now it is time for Marx and Engels to speak for themselves and I will list Marx and Engels’s works in the reading order that I most strongly recommend.

2. The Basics of the Communist Orientation:

These works lay down the foundation for the communist point of view. Readers should read through these texts probably multiple times and take notes before moving onto future sections.

3. Humanist Marx:

These works emphasized the humanist dimension of Marx’s thought and provide a crucial framework for evaluating Marx’s later works. Reading Marx’s works from his Humanist beginnings also helps us track the genealogy of Marx’s thought, important for understanding what Marx meant when he wrote his later Magnum Opus.

4. Self-Critique of Marx’s Erstwhile Philosophical Consciousness:

These two works represent largely Marx’s critique of Feuerbach’s limited materialism and conception of human nature that he had himself drawn influence from, as well as Marx’s positing of his own new materialist method of inquiry into historical conditions.

5. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy:

These works include Marx’s Magnum Opus of Capital, as well as works antecedent to Capital and after Capital. In particular, Marx wrote Grundrisse as a rough draft for Capital, a work that he never finished.

6. Marx’s Materialist Conception of History:

Marx and Engels applied the materialist conception of history first elaborated in The German Ideology to other historical events of interest.

7. Engels’s Popularizations, Applications, and Defenses of Marx’s Thought:

Engels in his later life continued to defend what he saw as Marx’s thought. Here we see differences in the way that Engels and Marx approached questions of philosophy, political economy, and socialism. Read these writings critically, in light of the fact that Marx and Engels were two separate people.

8. Minor Works:

You can probably get away with not reading these, but for the real Marx nerds or scholars out there, reading these might be fun.

9. Collected Works:

The Marx and Engels Collected Works contains all of the minor English-translated works and letters written by Marx and Engels throughout their lifetime that were not included earlier in this list. Again, this is for the hardcore Marx nerds and scholars out there.

10. Marx and Engels Study Guides and Commentary:

Ultra-Left Currents and Their Critique

Rosa Luxemburg:

Introduction to the Classic Ultra-Left (Dutch-German Left, Italian Left, and French Left):

Sample Works of the Classic Ultra-Left:

More Dutch-German Left:

More Italian Left:

More French Left:

Analysis of the Classic Ultra-Left:


Analysis of the Autonomists:

Introduction to Jacques Camatte (Post-Bordigism):

Communization Currents

Dominique Blanc’s Communization:

Troploin’s Communization:

Endnotes’ Communization:

Sic’s Communization:

Bruno Astarian’s Communization:

Théorie Communiste’s Communization:

Tiqqun’s Communization:

More Communization Authors:

Contemporary Ultra-Left Positions




Anti-“Transitional Society”:






Anti-“Labor Aristocracy”:



Anti-“Left Parties”:

Anti-“Left-Wing of Capital”:

Anti-“Left Unity”:

Anti-“Basic Income”:

Anti-“National Liberation”:


Anti-“Identity Politics”:


Anti-“White Supremacy”:


Critique of Philosophy


Orthodox Marxism:

Humanist Marxism:


Marx’s Incompleteness:

Anti-“False Consciousness”:




Anti-“Dialectical Materialism”:

Anti-“Historical Materialism”:

Anti-“Analytic Marxism”:

Anti-“Scientific Marxism”:

Anti-“Economic Determinism”:

Anti-“Leninist Philosophy”:


Critique of Political Economy

Marx’s Capital:


Class Analysis:

Social Democracy and Neoliberalism:



Anti-“Leninist Political Economy”:




United Kingdom:








South Korea:


Early 2000s Anti-Globalization Movement:



World Poverty/Violence:



Interesting Sites

Book/Article Archives:

Start a Reading Group:

Communization Currents:

Other Ultra-Left Organizations/Individuals:

Ultra-Left Blogs:

Ultra-Left Journals and Magazines:

Left Communist Organizations:

Marx Myths:

Global Supply Chain Mapping: