This is recapping an exercise in college where some friends and I sat around thinking – if a potential socialist convert were to agree to read any three books on socialism, what would you offer? Well, now I have to come up with ten, even though I’m not so sure I’d call myself a socialist anymore. Here are the ten books I think place socialism in the best light, with the best explanations.
1. Socialism Past, Present, and Future – Michael Harrington.
2. The Essential Works of Socialism – Irving Howe (yeah, maybe an anthology is cheating, but his selections are representative and excellent)
3. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1868 – Karl Marx
4. Design for Utopia – Charles Fourier
5. Foundation – Isaac Asimov (sold me on the whole concept as a teenager)
6. Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy (her utopia was compelling, but also disturbing)
7. Marx’s Concept of Man – Erich Fromme (sold me as a teenager on the concept of alienation)
8. A Theology of Liberation - Gustavo Gutierez
9. The Shape of Things to Come – HG Wells
10. Rerum Novarum – Pope Leo XIII (much more radical than either Catholic conservatives or secular socialists want to acknowledge)
Honorable mentions: The Communist Manifesto (the first five pages of which contain nothing but compliments for capitalism as a progressive force in historical context), People of the Abyss – Jack London, The Iron Heel – Jack London, The Permanent Revolution – Trotsky, The State and Capital – Lenin, Looking Forward – Edward Bellamy, Mutual Aid, a Factor of Evolution – Peter Kropotkin, and Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman