Wage Labor and Capital

In this short book, Marx explains in everyday language how labor creates value, how capital exploits labor, and how wages are determined in capitalism. An excellent introduction to Marxist economics.

The Revolution Betrayed

Why did the Soviet state degenerate into the monstrous bureaucratic regime of Stalin? Leon Trotsky analyzes how it came about, the Soviet state as it was in in the 1930s, the potential for genuine socialism hinted at by the advances of the USSR in spite of the bureaucracy, and what the tasks of the Marxists were in relation to it. He predicts in advance that if a political revolution did not succeed in overthrowing the bureaucratic regime and replacing it with workers' democracy, that capitalism would eventually be restored, with tragic consequences for the Soviet and world working class.

Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder

The Communist International which was created after the Russian Revolution was formed mostly from left-wing splits in the Socialist International. Many had ultra-left positions as a reaction to decades of the reformist leadership of the Socialist parties. Lenin used this book to educate the young cadres of the Comintern in the methods of Bolshevism and the relation between the class, the party, and the leadership. It is a masterpiece of Marxism, applying the basic tenets already outlined in the Manifesto: "The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties; They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole; They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mold the proletarian movement."

The Transitional Program

How do Marxists use programmatic demands to win the working class to the cause of revolutionary socialism? Trotsky explains the need to use transitional demands to bridge the gap between “minimum demands” and “maximum demands”; between the the present consciousness of the working class and the need for the socialist transformation of society; and between the revolutionary party and the advanced workers.

The State and Revolution

The State and Revolution was written to prepare the Bolshevik party for their task in 1917 of leading the Russian working class to power. It analyzes the origins of the state, its role in maintaining the rule of capital, the need for the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois state, how a workers' state must be used by the working class to defend the socialist revolution, and how the state as an instrument of the rule of one class over another would "wither way" in the transition from socialism to communism, as a result of the gradual dissolution of classes. In this short book, Lenin also takes up the views of the anarchists and the reformists on this question, and exposes their limitations.