A reader wrote to me a while back asking me to recommend some good books for a reading group he helps organize. This was the message:
“A major component of our organizing is developing workers who we recruit onto our committee as revolutionary organizers that can become leaders within the proletariat. A large part of this process is using our committee meetings as forums to educate workers on marxist political economy, in order to make it understood that by fighting for better working conditions we are engaging in class struggle, and make the political content of that struggle explicit.
“We’ve tried material like “Economic Interpretation of the Job” for curriculum, and had some success:
But feeling as if that was inadequate, more recently we’ve tried to read “Wage Labor and Capital” as a group, trying to get workers to understand the the abstractions described in it through observations of how they manifest in the workplace. We’ve had very little success with this, and are now re-assessing what is a decent curriculum.
“As someone with an apparent gift for conveying theory on market exchange and the labor process to people with almost no background in Marx, I was wondering if you had any advice on a curriculum on political economy proceeding from a basic understanding of class struggle, expanding into more complex concepts like SNLT, crisis, and commodity fetishism, that by the end one would hope that the student has a solid theoretical analysis of capitalism and the ability to articulate that theory to others and withstand argument.”
I recommended a few books:
I suspect that there are probably even better suggestions that readers out there may wish to add to the list. Yes in a perfect world I would just say “read Capital and nothing else!” But since the reader says that Value Price and Profit was too abstract I don’t think ‘read Capital!” is the right response. I prefer to be more practical. Have others out there had luck with intro-to-Marx sort of reading groups, especially ones linked to organizing efforts? Does anyone have good suggestions of books that I might pass on?