Ben’s List

Reading Recommendations: Works written by others

Understanding Power

By: Noam Chomsky

A major new collection from “arguably the most important intellectual alive” (The New York Times). Noam Chomsky is universally accepted as one of the preeminent public intellectuals of the modern era. Over the past thirty years, broadly diverse audiences have gathered to attend his sold-out lectures. Now, in Understanding Power, Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel have assembled the best of Chomsky’s recent talks on the past, present, and future of the politics of power. In a series of enlightening and wide-ranging discussions, all published here for the first time, Chomsky radically reinterprets the events of the past three decades, covering topics from foreign policy during Vietnam to the decline of welfare under the Clinton administration. And as he elucidates the connection between America’s imperialistic foreign policy and the decline of domestic social services, Chomsky also discerns the necessary steps to take toward social change. With an eye to political activism and the media’s role in popular struggle, as well as U.S. foreign and domestic policy, Understanding Power offers a sweeping critique of the world around us and is definitive Chomsky. 

Read a preview of this book here: 
understandingpower.com

Order the book:
understandingpower.com/Ordering.html

5/5
The book that got me into left wing politics when I was young. A thorough and brilliant synopsis of how American imperialism and capitalism affect world politics and actively crush any attempts at building socialism or progressive politics.

The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution

By: Leon Trotsky

Contains discussions between leaders of the U.S Socialist Workers Party and exiled revolutionary Leon Trotsky in 1938. The product of these discussions, a program of immediate, democratic and transitional demands, was adopted by the SWP later that year. This program for socialist revolution, remains an important tool for communist workers today.

Read the full book here:
https://www.goodreads.com/

4/5
Written in the 1930's but sounds like it could have been written just yesterday. A look inside the rise of fascism and how worker movements must demand things that are simply impossible to achieve under capitalism in order to make way for a socialist society.

The Great War for Civilization

By: Robert Fisk

A sweeping and dramatic history of the last half century of conflict in the Middle East from an award-winning journalist who has covered the region for over thirty years, The Great War for Civilisation unflinchingly chronicles the tragedy of the region from the Algerian Civil War to the Iranian Revolution; from the American hostage crisis in Beirut to the Iran-Iraq War; from the 1991 Gulf War to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. A book of searing drama as well as lucid, incisive analysis, The Great War for Civilisation is a work of major importance for today’s world.

Read more here:
libcom.org/files/The_Great_War_for_Civilisation.pdf

3.5/5
A devastating look inside the tortured history of the Middle East by long time war correspondent.

Threepenny Novel

By: Bertolt Brecht

Brecht’s only novel is, of course, based on his own Threepenny Opera, which was itself based on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. Set in Victorian London, the novel feels similar to Dickens in many ways, but written with a very dry humour and none of the sentimentality. The plot mostly involves the extremely dodgy business dealings of the characters Peachum and Macheath, along with some equally dubious bankers and financiers – in fact it feels surprisingly relevant to current times! A satirical yet rather subtle attack on capitalist society, Brecht’s vision here is of a world in which the poor and weak are continually exploited in the most casual fashion by the powerful and unscrupulous who always come out on top. It’s very good writing but may be a little slow-going for some.

Read the full book here:
goodreads.com/book/show/1069429.
Threepenny_Novel

5/5
A brilliant and poetic story taking place during the Boer War in Britian, showing the corrupt and hopeless nature of the capitalist system.

The State and Revolution

By: Vladimir Lenin

Lenin, born in 1870, was committed to revolutionary struggle from an early age – his elder brother was hanged for the attempted assassination of Czar Alexander III. In 1891 Lenin passed his Law exam with high honors, whereupon he took to representing the poorest peasantry in Samara. After moving to St. Petersburg in 1893, Lenin’s experience with the oppression of the peasantry in Russia, coupled with the revolutionary teachings of G V Plekhanov, guided Lenin to meet with revolutionary groups. In April 1895, his comrades helped send Lenin abroad to get up to speed with the revolutionary movement in Europe, and in particular, to meet the Emancipation of Labour Group, of which Plekhanov head. After five months abroad, traveling from Switzerland to France to Germany, working at libraries and newspapers to make his way, Lenin returned to Russia, carrying a brief case with a false bottom, full of Marxist literature.

His writings describe the role of the State in society, the necessity of proletarian revolution, and the theoretic inadequacies of social democracy in achieving revolution to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Read the full works here:
marxists.org/ebooks/lenin/state-and-revolution.pdf

5/5
A definitive text for socialist strategy.

To the Finland Station

By: Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson’s magnum opus, To the Finland Station, is a stirring account of revolutionary politics, people, and ideas from the French Revolution through the Paris Commune to the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917. It is a work of history on a grand scale, at once sweeping and detailed, closely reasoned and passionately argued, that succeeds in painting an unforgettable picture–alive with conspirators and philosophers, utopians and nihilists–of the making of the modern world.

Edmund Wilson (1895–1972) was among the foremost American men of letters of the twentieth century. A literary critic, novelist, memoirist, playwright, journalist, poet, and editor, he was the author of more than twenty books.

Review the book here:
goodreads.com/book/show/694282.To_the_Finland_Station

Buy the book here:
http://barnesandnoble.com

5/5
findland
A thorough history of socialist thought right up until the Russian Revolution of 1917. A wonderful history of some of the most influential left wing thinkers of the last 200 years. It also includes a chapter detailing how modern anarchist thought is rooted in the impotent, teenage angst of a man who hated his strict father and was in love with his sister.
4/5

Data and Goliath

By: Bruce Schneier

Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.

The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.

Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He brings his bestseller up-to-date with a new preface covering the latest developments, and then shows us exactly what we can do to reform government surveillance programs, shake up surveillance-based business models, and protect our individual privacy. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.

Preview here:
goodreads.com/book/show/25622873-data-and-goliath

An insightful look at the way that big tech companies use and abuse your data and some suggestions on how to change that system and implement some privacy safeguards.
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