by Gary Hicks



Suggested readings:

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party

V.I. Lenin, The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism

Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Joseph Stalin, Foundations of Leninism


Suggested readings:

Dialego, Introduction to Marxist Philosophy

Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach………..

Mao Zedong, On Practice

Mao Zedong, On Contradiction

Additional reading:

Angela Davis talk on art and theory, 1985

Georges Politzer, Introduction to Philosophy. Politzer was a French communist, murdered by the Nazis during World War 2. His book will have to be tracked down via Amazon, etc. as it’s long out of print.


Suggested readinga:

Karl Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital[WLC] and Wages, Price, and Profit [WPP],

Suggest reading these in the following order:

>> Introduction to WLC by Frederick Engels, where Engels explained the distinction between labour-power and labour. This difference was not accounted for by Marx in WLC but is employed in WPP , coincident with the differentiation made in Capital.

>>WPP, entirety

>>WLC, entirety, again keeping in mind Engels’ caveat

>> And finally a must-read: Part 8, in Volume 1 of Capital. It was once published by Progress Publishers under the title “The Genesis of Capital”.

Additional readings. Remember that this is an introductory course. There will be time later for more advanced stuff:

>> John Eaton , Political Economy. Probably the best English basic text, after all these decades. This book should be used selectively in this section, with close attention to the chapter on agriculture and rent, as well as those chapters on the falling rate of profit and the crises of capitalism as a system.

>> Any work, in whole or in part, by Victor Perlo. Again, selective reading. PLEASE NOTE: much of Eaton’s and Perlo’s material will be more appropriate for use in the section on Imperialism.


Suggested reading:

>>V.I. Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

>> WEB DuBois, The African Roots of War

>>William K. Tabb, Four Crises of the Contemporary World Capitalist System

>>Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa


Suggested reading:

>>V.I. Lenin, Where to Begin?

What Is To Be Done?

>>Rosa Luxemburg, Reform or Revolution

The first Lenin reading is a short article that discusses the role of the party press, the need for one, it’s role as both collective agitator and collective organizer, and it’s central role/importance in buildng a party.

The second Lenin reading is a long pamphlet that was going to be an enlargrement of the above reading, but it became necessary to devote the work to discuss a trend in Russian social-democracy [communism, as it was called at that time] known as Economism. Economism belittled the importance of developing a working class that would be able to speak and act for itself. The class therefore should leave methods of political struggle to other, more “expert” forces who would look out for the class’s interests.

The book also addresses the importance of having a tight, combative party that supported professional revolutionaries who had skills of organizing workers and their allies and combatting the enemy, especially the state repressive agencies.

The Rosa Luxemburg pamphlet was the first work to take up the arguments of Eduard Bernstein, the leading “expert’ of intenational Social-Democracy [communism] at the end of the 19th Century. It was Bernstein that argued that new technologies, means of prduction, along with the legalization of several parties in Europe, made Marxist class struggle and certain Marxist theories, a thing of the past.


>>V.I. Lenin, The State

The State and Revolution

The Impending Catastrophe[Crisis] And How To Combat It

The first of these works by Lenin is a speech given to students at a Komsomol [Young Communist League] school in 1920, three years into the October 1917 Revolution. It’s the kind of work that should be kept around to be read over and over again since, as Lenin makes clear in his pamphlet, the nature of the state always raises new questions in new conditions.

The second work here, a pamphlet, is basically a message to the Bolsheviks on the eve of the October Revolution. The message: you are about to seize state power and you need t tighten up on your understanding of the state. All of these years of fighting the Tsar’s army and police have been mere dress rehearsal. You now have to understand the concept of the state in conditions of running one! A brilliant exposition of the history of Marxist understanding of the state, mixed in with in-your-face, on the ground considerations.

The third pamphlet is an exposition by name of the screwups in society as a result of theTsar’s rule and foreign capital’s dominance of the major industrial and financial institutions.


>>V.I,. Lenin, “Left Wing” Communism. An Infantile Disorder.

>>Mao Zedong, On Correcting Mistaken Ideas In The Party.

“Left Wing communism” is often used by comrades for arguing against tendencies to forsake participation in elections/taking seats, and also against those would forego participation in the official/traditional trade

unions. Often missed is the point that these left-wing tendencies are the response to rightist opportunism in word, thought and deed………in both parliament and trade union struggles. The pamphlet while criticising left wing tendecies is fundamentally a handbook for combat within parliament [congress] and the dominant parties of capitalist collaboration………..and within the trade unions ruled by class collaboratinist leadership and bureaucratic organization.

Mao’s pamphlet, while written in 1929 and addressing problems within the People’s Liberation Army, is surprising light-shedding upon today’s problems of building disciplined organizations.


Suggested readings:

>>J.V.Stalin, Anarchism or Socialism?

>>Carl Davidson, Left in Form, Right in Essence. A Critique of Contemporary Trotskyism.

.>>[ModernRevisionism] KKE/Greek CP: Thoughts about the factors that determined the reversal of the socialist system in Europe.

Historically, the International Communist Movement has had to respond to political forces, some of them calling themselves Marxist, that have misunderstood the relationship of reform to the revolutionary process. The above three articles are introductions to those political forces historically called Anarchism, Trotskyism, and Modern Revisionism.

The Stalin article on Anarchism should be seen as an extension of the readings in SECTION 7. The KKE/Greek CP article should be seen as a supplementary reading to Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform or Revolution, in SECTION 5.


Suggested reading:

>>Georgi Dimitrov, 1935: The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism.

>>Joe Slovo, 1988:The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution

>>Sam Webb, [2005 ?] Socialism Revisited, Parts 1 and 2


This is a discussion without any assigned readings, at least in this first draft. Propose that the following be addressed:

>>What were the goals of the study? This may vary from location to location, but it will be interesting to see if there are any common red threads wich run through all of these efforts.

>>What readings were actually used? Were they useful, and why? What power of explanation did these readings have in our further understanding of Marxism?

>>Were young people involved? Persons of color? Women? LGBTQ? How did it go in relating the special questions of these people to the class politics that we’re trying to get a handle on?

>>Was the group composed of both party and non-party people? What were the dynamics that took place?

>>Overall, what are the positive things/lessons that happened in the course of this study? What are things, dynamics, readings, etc. to be avoided in future studty groups?

>>Participants might want to cnsider themselves the core of a wider study process. In that sense, how should we network across the country?

The document is called Marxist Leninist Education Project 2. Mlep2 is so called to distinguish it from the original Mlep, a project of the pre-party formation called Line of March Political Organization, which flourished in the 1980s. It was a project that originated from a process of study organized by the Union of Democratic Filipinos [the KDP], and joined in on by the Northern California Alliance, the Racism Research Project, and others.

After a first run of the 39 week study group, the Mlep was tried out in a number of different cities: Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, DC-Baltimore area, Madison WI, and SF Bay Area, among others.

The 39-week Mlep Long Course, as it came to be called [there was also added on an 8-9 week Short Course, and in some areas Seminars on US History, Political Economy, and Party Building] typically consisted of 10-15 participants, including two co-facilitators. Participants were divided into groups of three, which each had a chair [ in some places rotated over a period of time]. The original study consisted of the following topics:

1. Introduction to Marxism Leninism

2. Philosophy………..dialectical and historical materialism, the theory of knowledge

3. Political economy of capitalism

4. Imperialism

5. Underdevelopment in less-developed countries

6. Political strategy: What is to be done?

7. Political understanding of the state: The state and revolution

8. More political strategy: “Left wing” communism

9. The international communist movement and other trends: anarchism, terrorism, Trotskyism, Revisionism, Maoism

10.The united front against war and racism

11. Summation process

As mentioned above, the 39 week course was later offered as a 9 week course. Typically, a locality might offer one or both in a given year. But to get back to the 3 person study groups: each weekly session, which was usually held on a Saturday or Sunday and lasted 3-4 hours, was a session where a particular topic was addressed by 3 or 4 study teams who had each prepared a 5-10 minute presentation on one of several discussion questons which had been assigned to the teams the previous week. The co-facilitators kept in touch with the teams during the week, in order to identify what questions were causing problems in understanding. So the co-facilitators knew in advance where they might have to intervene and try and add some clarity to the matter at hand.

The two biggest objections to study was, first, that it was too theoretical; and second, there was a mass struggle going on. The first question had to do with the fact that most of us were raised in the United States were the victims of a bad education, and an environment of anti-intellectualism in our culture. We, and ultimately the masses of our people, had to be convinced that political theory and training were a legitimate form of political struggle. The academy, as well as the community and the workplace were battlefields, and in all locales the question was [and remains] what kinds of thinking and politics will hold sway: bourgeois or proletarian?

As to the raging struggle going on , and which we should not abandon for theory, there were two points of response. First, that we had to engage with and become good at using…theory. If we didn’t, then we would not know how to think adequately, and we would all go into battle without strategy or tactics………….and botch it. Second, the struggle is long and protracted………..consequently, we could promise our participants that there would be plenty of it awaiting them upon the completion of Mlep!

All of this activity was, in that time, based upon the assumption that a communist party had to be built that was not reformist and revisionist at its core, but rather a combative party armed with theory and approaches to engaging in good practice. For a whole host of reasons, Line of March failed to bring that party into being, despite its best efforts and human talent at hand. But the struggle to build that party still remains, preferably inside the one party in our country which, despite itself, remains “the mind, the will, the honor of the working class ” [Lenin].

Many of the readings below can be located online. Sometimes, study questions are also available. I would suggest that this be started as an 8-10 week study, once a week………or as two weekends with a full week sandwiched in between.