Learn about Marxism-Leninism

For Communists, theory and practice, understanding and action, go hand in hand.

Marxism-Leninism is a combination of scientific, philosophical and political theories, developed since Marx and Engels up to the present day.

Marxism-Leninism, also known as Scientific Socialism, allows human beings to understand the problems of history and humanity and find our way in a complex and chaotic modern world.

It allows us to understand the realities of today’s social and economic system, capitalism, and organise to overthrow this degenerate system, save the planet and replace capitalism with a system based on social and economic progress, common ownership and working people’s democracy, Socialism.

There are thousands of books which have been produced all around the world in relation to the theories and practice of Marxism-Leninism. Knowing where to begin with your study to correctly develop your understanding of Communism can be almost impossible. Sure, everyone knows of The Communist Manifesto, but beyond that where do you begin?

To solve this we have put together the Back2Basics guide to develop your initial concepts of Marxist-Leninist theory:

Beyond this, we have put together a number of the most essential and fundamental works written by Communist leaders and theorists, as well as a few Communist Party of Britain publications, available as free PDF downloads below:

YCL Education:

Introducing Marxism

A short study pamphlet by the Communist Party of Britain on Marxism, capitalism, Socialism, Communism, and revolution.

Britain’s Road to Socialism

The regularly updated programme of the Communist Party of Britain, to which we are constitutionally bound, explains the long-term context and strategy of the fight for working class power and Socialism in Britain.


Physical Edition available here.

As well as a Study Guide here.

What We Stand For

A short pamphlet by the Communist Party of Britain explaining the role and policies of the Party and Young Communist League.

Books For Beginners

A few short but essential texts to begin with:

What is communism? What is the proletariat? What is the result of periodic economic crises of capitalism? What will a new, communist, social order be like and under what conditions will it be possible? Engels answers 25 simple questions on communism in The Principles of Communism (1847) in a concise and straightforward way.

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The Manifesto of the Communist Party (or, as it is most often called, The Communist Manifesto) contains the first and most complete summarised statement of the theoretical principles of Marxism and of the strategy and tactics of Communism. It was commissioned by the Second Congress of the Communist League in November 1847, and it was first published in February 1848.

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In this brief article Lenin explains how the teachings of Marx “arose as a direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.”

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This little book, which Lenin wrote in 1914 while in exile in Switzerland, contains a brief but comprehensive account of all the most essential elements of Marx’s teachings.

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Of all the works of Marx and Engels, this is probably the best for the beginner. Written in a very clear and easy style, it introduces the reader to the basic ideas of scientific socialism.

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Further Reading

Some longer, but very important texts to study:

Published as a pamphlet in 1849, its main aim is to help the worker to understand their own economic position in capitalist society.

This pamphlet by Marx (which is also known as Wages, Price and Profit) contains a simple explanation of the basic ideas of political economy—value and surplus value.

Available together here:

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Published in 1845 when Engels was only 24 years old, it explores the staggering human cost of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England. It was this text which impressed Marx, and which led to their eventual friendship and collaboration together.

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Engels shows how the principles of historical materialism are applied in the interpretation of the development of primitive society and of the origins of civilisation.

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In this book Engels deals with a secondary consequence of the economic law of development of capitalism—the housing question. He shows how not only bad and unhealthy housing, but a housing shortage and high rents, affecting not only the working class but large sections of the middle class also, result from the rapid development of industrial capitalism. He discusses various schemes proposed for solving the housing problem, and concludes that this problem is integrally connected with capitalism and that only by the ending of capitalism will the housing question be finally solved.

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This was written by Lenin on the eve of October, 1917, and sets forth the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the state. The last chapter, which was to deal with the experiences of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and February 1917, was never written: Lenin was “interrupted” by the advent of the October Revolution.

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Lenin’s Imperialism was written in 1916, that is, in the midst of the imperialist war. In it he sought to lay bare the essential nature of imperialism, and thereby to unmask the policies of the imperialist powers, the roots of imperialist war, the treachery of the social-democratic leaders who had gone over to the side of the imperialists, and to show the workers that the way forward was by the overthrow of imperialism.

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What is to be Done is a book of key importance for the Marxist conception of the tasks of the working class party. It was directed against those who in the early days after the establishment of a working class party in Russia taught that the workers should engage in economic struggle only, concentrating on bread-and-butter problems rather than political issues. Lenin shows that to confine the working class movement to economic struggle alone means to give up the political struggle and so to condemn the workers to eternal wage slavery.

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Left Wing Communism is a handbook of Communist Party strategy and tactics, of Communist leadership, and the building of a mass party. It was written in 1920, at the time of the 2nd Congress of the Communist International, in order to correct the “leftist” mistakes being made by Communists in a number of countries. Lenin draws on the experiences of the Russian Bolsheviks as a guide for the world Communist movement.

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" The Young Communist League should distinguish itself with one single word: Vanguard. Comrades, you must be the vanguard, at the forefront of every movement. The first on the job. The first at their studies. The first in the defence of our people. "
Ernesto "Che" Guevara
What Must A Young Communist Be, 1962