Books on Socialism


Recommended Recent Books

These books are recommended by Set the Record Straight; they are relatively recent and available at your local bookstore or online. We welcome suggestions for this list; please include the complete citation and if possible, send us a short review of why you think the book should be included.

Avakian, Bob. Phony Communism Is Dead...Long Live Real Communism. Chicago: RCP Publications, 2004.

Clark, Paul. The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Cushing, Lincoln and Tompkins, Ann. Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

Feigon, Lee. Mao: A Reinterpretation. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2002.

Gao, Mobo C.F. The Battle for China’s Past: Mao & The Cultural Revolution. London: Pluto Press, 2008.

Gao, Mobo C.F. Gao Village: Rural Life in Modern China. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2007.

Han, Donping. The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008.

Hinton, William. Through a Glass Darkly: American Views of the Chinese Revolution. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006.

Hinton, William. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Li, Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008.

Lotta, Raymond. Maoist Economics & the Revolutionary Road to Communism: The Shanghai Textbook. Chicago: Banner Press, 1994. Afterword: The Theory and Practice of Maoist Planning: In Defense of a Viable and Visionary Socialism.

Xueping, Zhong, Zheng, Wang, and Bai, Di, eds. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Recommended Older Books

These books, also recommended by Set the Record Straight, were written during or shortly after the Mao years in China. They are harder to obtain although often available at the library or used book sellers.

Avakian, Bob. The Loss in China and the Revolutionary Legacy of Mao Tsetung. [speech] available from RCP Publications, Chicago, 1978.

Chen, Jack. A Year in Upper Felicity: Life in a Chinese Village During the Cultural Revolution New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1973.

Chen, Jack. Inside the Cultural Revolution London: Sheldon Press, 1976.

Daubier, Jean. A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. New York: Random House, 1974.

Endicott, Stephen. Red Earth: Revolution in a Sichuan Village. New York: New Amsterdam, 1991.

Gamberg, Ruth. Education in the People’s Republic of China. New York: Schocken Books, 1977.

Hinton, William. Hundred Day War: The Cultural Revolution at Tsinghua University. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972.

Horn, Joshua S. Away with All Pests: An English Surgeon in People's China, 1954-1969. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971.

Macciocchi, Maria Antonietta. Daily Life in Revolutionary China. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972.

Myrdal, Jan. Report from a Chinese Village. New York: Signet, 1966.

Sidel, Victor W. and Ruth. Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People’s Republic of China. Boston: Beacon Press, 1973.

Snow, Edgar. Red Star over China. New York: Grove Press, 1961.

Snow, Edgar. The Long Revolution. New York: Random House, 1972.

Suyin, Han. Wind in the Tower: Mao Tsetung and the Chinese Revolution 1949-1975. Boston: Little, Brown, 1976.

Witke, Roxanne. Comrade Chiang Ching. Boston: Little Brown, 1977.

Socialism and the Political Economy of Socialism

Marx, Karl, Critique of the Gotha Programme. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1972. (Also available online here.)

Marx did not set down a systematic account of how a socialist economy would function. But in this brief work, written towards the end of his life, he does offer more extensive comments on the conditions of emergence and the economic and social organization of socialist and communist society.

Lenin, V.I., The State and Revolution, Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1973. (Also available online here.)

Taking Marx’s ideas further, and defending them against revisionist assault, Lenin discusses the nature of the proletarian state and the economic and political factors involved in the transition from socialism to communism.

Stalin, Joseph, Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1972. (Also available online here.)

In this essay, written in 1952, Stalin attempts to identify and address key problems arising from the remnants of capitalism still surviving under socialism. The discussion ranges over such issues as the law of value, commodity production, and their effects on the regulation of socialist production, and the continuing contradiction between the forces and relations of production. A serious work of socialist political economy, although also seriously flawed. See next reference.

Mao, Tsetung, A Critique of Soviet Economics, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977.

Pathbreaking writings dating from the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mao critically examines the Soviet model of socialist construction and its associated principles of socialist political economy. Set against the canvas of the Great Leap Forward, Mao probes the process of continuing revolution and the nature of the transition from socialism to communism—and in so doing stakes out new conceptual territory for Marxism.

Chun-chiao, Chang, “On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie,” in Lotta, Raymond, ed., And Mao Makes Five, Chicago: Banner Press, 1978; also in Peking Review (14), 4 April 1975. (Also available online here.)

Chang was a key leader of the Cultural Revolution and part of the radical leadership core on whom Mao relied during his last great battle. This essay was written in 1975, as the struggle within the Chinese Communist Party over whether China would remain on the socialist road was coming to a fateful head. It is a highly important analysis of the relations of production under socialism, the contradictions within its ownership system, and the material and ideological conditions giving rise to new privileged and exploiting forces.

Avakian, Bob, Mao Tsetung’s Immortal Contributions, Chicago: RCP Publications, 1979.

A lucid synthesis of Mao’s contributions to various fields of Marxism, including the political economy of socialism, that is also a stimulating survey of the development of Marxist theory. The work provides ground as well for understanding key historical and developmental issues of the Chinese revolution.

Back to Resources