Ten books for left-leaning politics students

5. Keir Milburn Generation Left (Polity)

To what extent can age be considered a dividing line in politics? Milburn argues for the idea of ‘political generations’ – collective groups, similar in age, whose life experiences are shaped by fundamental economic or political ruptures. He suggests that the epochal event of the financial crisis of 2008 has helped to create a political generation maturing into adulthood in an era of austerity that has radicalised them and moved many of them leftwards. Showing how generational politics intersect with other struggles around race, class, gender and the environment, Milburn’s book can help us better understand all kinds of politics today.

6. Kehinde Andrews Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century (Zed Books)

At a time when Black Lives Matter has become one of the most obvious signs of how experiences of racism can shape people’s politics, Andrews’s book draws out a tradition of black radical thought that can make an important contribution to anti-racist politics today.

7. Gregory Claeys Marx and Marxism (Penguin Books)

As a prominent historian of political and social thought in Britain, Gregory Claeys is well suited to the task of writing a detailed yet accessible account of Marxism as a political ideology. Providing both a succinct account of the life of Karl Marx and an account of Marxist movements that attempted to put his ideas into practice, in the process reshaping and, often, mis-shaping them. This is the best one-volume account of Marxism as an ideology, and the life of the man on whose ideas it rests.

8. Naomi Klein This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs Climate (Penguin)

Klein is a stalwart of the anti-globalisation movement, and has specialised in writing powerful but readable accounts of contemporary politics. In This Changes Everything she shows how the roots of our environmental crisis lie in an economic system that puts profit ahead of planet, and calls for environmental politics to take seriously the need for economic and political change. Essential reading for anyone interested in the politics behind social movements like Extinction Rebellion.

9. Ann Pettifor The Case for the Green New Deal (Verso Books)

In both America and Europe, a green new deal has become a live political demand. But what is the history of the movement for a green new deal, what does it propose and what is it seeking to accomplish? Having been involved in discussion over a green new deal for almost two decades, Ann Pettifor is well placed to answer these questions. A useful book for anyone trying to think through how the social movement politics of Extinction Rebellion can overlap with parliamentary politics, as well as the limitations that parliamentary politics has for achieving environmental justice.

10. Jeremy Gilbert Twenty-First Century Socialism (Polity)

What is socialism, and how is it being re-booted for the modern world? Writing in clear and simple prose Gilbert charts a brief history of socialism and suggests a platform for socialist politics in the twenty-first century. Worth reading for any student of politics keen both to explore what socialism looks like today, and to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific socialist political platform.