avatar
Lightweight Library


What political/social readings – not so well known – would I recommend for someone with a small carrying case? I get asked that pretty often. Here are a few:

Wilhelm Reich had a very productive and insightful period, followed by devolution into insanity. His political essays are little known. I highly recommend an essay titled What Is Class Consciousness and a collection which includes it called Sex Pol. I tried to find them online, but failed miserably. Perhaps someone will do better and will provide me a pointer to make available. It has been a long time since I have seen this, and I would like to have a copy myself.

Andre Gorz is another writer who had ups and downs but produced a lot of very insightful work. Try, in particular, his book Strategy for Labor, Beacon Press.

The Dutch Astronomer Anton Pannekoek was a libertarian marxist or perhaps better called a council communist with very diverse but currently little known contributions. Try his Workers Councils among other work.

A very provocative and insightful early essay on gender and feminism was The Traffic in Women by Gayle Rubin. It is quite worth a read! I could not find it online, however.

I couldn’t find Barbara and John Ehrenreich’s The Professional Managerial Class online either…but you can find it in the book Between Labor and Capital edited by Pat Walker, South End Press – which also has quite a lot of other interesting content – including the earliest formulations of coordinator class analysis from Hahnel and myself. Try also the nearly invisible though frequently quoted and really quite inspired essay by Stephen Marglin, What Do Bosses Do? Couldn’t find that online either, though I found an endless list of references to it.

Try Maurice Brinton’s, The Bolsheviks and Workers Control for a look at the Russian revolution and regarding anarchism you might try the book titled Anarchism, by Daniel Guerin, Monthly Review Press, and also its introduction by Chomsky.

Mutual Aid, by Peter Kropotkin, is of course a classic. Like all Kropotkin’s works, it is very readable, warm, and intelligent. Most of his essays are well worth reading and a very good collection is Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets (two volumes), from MIT Press. It is excellent material on just about everything from analysis to goals to strategy. Beautifully written. Each essay is self-contained so it is a great book for people who like to read a little at a time but like that little to be complete unto itself.

Another classic is The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism, edited by G. P. Maxirnov, Glenco, Illinois. This is a collection of excerpts. It’s very fine but more difficult than reading full essays, though more comprehensive.

A More recent excellent book – well, still a few decades old — is False Promises, by Stanley Aronowitz, McGraw-Hill Book Company. I would call it a modern Council Communist perspective with improvements due to better cultural and psychological insights.

Also relatively modern, and in the same ballpark, there is Strike, by Jeremy Brecher, SEP. A moving history of United States working-class struggle with emphasis on the roles spontaneity and worker self-organization have played.

Leave a comment