Created on Monday, 24 October 2011 16:57 Written by Well Red Books
The publication this month of “The Classics of Marxism: Volume One” brings together in one slim volume four of the most important Marxists texts ever produced.
The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels is well known and has maintained its importance since it was first published way back in 1848. Turn now to our centre pages to read what Leon Trotsky had to say about this great work.
Also in this book is a superb and sometimes underated work by Engels called Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Originally written as part of his polemical work on Marxist theory Anti-Duhring (Also available from Wellred books) this text was later issued as a pamphlet with the intention of making available a short and clear presentation of the case of socialism.
Engels outlines the rise of class society and explains how socialist thought arose. The work then goes on to give an outline of dialectics and historical materialism - the cornerstone of Marxist ideas. On this he bases his case for the woking class to take up the struggle for socialism based on a clear class programme rooted in the methods of Marxism.
The next item in the book is Lenin’s The State and Revolution. Written in the summer of 1917, lenin sets himself the task of explaining the class nature of the state and its role under socialism. The question of the state remains a critical issue today and as such Lenin’s short book requires particular study by all activists. Many people have illusions even now in the so-called “independance” of the state. Lenin outlines how the state machine in the final analysis always acts in the interests of the ruling class, private property and capital.
Interestingly, given the year in which it was written, Lenin then goes on to outline the role of the state under a socialist society. The warnings he gives here remain very much on the cards. He also takes to task the niave gibberish of the Anarchists (far more important in his day compared to today) who imagine that the state can just be put to one side.
The final item here is Leon Trotsky’s The Transitional Programme. Written as a programatic document for the refounding of the Marxist International in 1938, after the total degeneration of the Communist International under Stalinism, this works stands as a vital explanation of how to link demands to the task of the transformation of society and the Socialist revolution. Its aim was to enable workers and youth to relate their current situation to the programme of Marxism and understand why it is necessary to become a class fighter armed with the ideas of Scientific Socialism.
Each of the four works are directly related to each other and should be read as such.
Engels once said that the British have a “disdain for theory.” We hope that the publication of what will be the first in a series of collected short classic writings of Marxism, will encourage our readers to prove Engels wrong in this instance anyway.
The Classics of Marxism is available from Wellred Books for just £5.99 including postage. Order online at