Resources on communism for 13 year old
September 2, 2021 7:12 AM   Subscribe

My son (almost 13) is very interested in communism. His info source is almost entirely you Tube videos. Most of them are however the type of "communism explained in 1 Minute" or similar.

While i don't mind his interest I would like to find some info sources for him that are more substantial but also not based on the assumption that the audience has already read their Marx and Engels and is familiar with the historical background. Something basic but not shallow or jokey. He is on the spectrum and not always easily able to discern irony, sarcasm or humor.

Everything i find is either geared to college age or over. Or the stuff he found, which is really shallow and enforces cliches.

Are you aware of (ideally) a Youtuber or book or possibly podcast on the history and basic doctrine, aimed at a younger audience?
English is fine, but if you know something in German, that would be the ultimate Jackpot!
posted by 15L06 to Education (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
From a friend:

"Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton is a pretty light read that touches on a bunch of topics, I've lent a copy I have out to a few (adult) friends who were curious.

There's also a couple of comics like Red Rosa and Capital Illustrated (I think it's called?) that would probably be suitable."
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:02 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Why You Should Be A Marxist, produced by Jacobin Magazine. This is the best thing I've ever heard about socialism/Marxism. Not communism per se, but this gets at the theory that you need to understand with excellent historical examples and not really any background required, as far as I recall.

The Jacobin YouTube channel is great and has lots of content that your son might find interesting.
posted by number9dream at 9:23 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got a lot from the "for beginners" series when I was a budding radical (though older than 13, so I am not entirely sure if it will be appropriate. Marx for Beginners could be great, though note it's about Marx and his ideas vs communism per se. If you track this down, definitely find one of the older editions that has the caricature on the front! For some reason they simplified it on later versions and it's much less evocative and memorable.
posted by wemayfreeze at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There is a graphic novel of Das Kapital.
posted by RajahKing at 11:01 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Communism for kids is surprisingly good. It is translated from German, so it kind of reads above its intended age bracket? I enjoyed it as an adult.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:04 AM on September 2, 2021

Best answer: Any book by Svetlana Alexievich might be good, and there’s a YA version of Last Witnesses.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:05 AM on September 2, 2021

I should clarify I read the English translation and can’t vouch for the German version or how it actually reads.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:05 AM on September 2, 2021

Best answer: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Jean-Louis Panné, Andrzej Paczkowski, et al.
posted by yclipse at 11:19 AM on September 2, 2021

Best answer: Yes, get that Marx For Beginners book! The whole series is great, I discovered it around that age. I think there's also a Das Kapital For Beginners book. While he might be mostly interested in Marx I remember the rest of the series being a good intro to some other famous thinkers – Einstein, Freud, Darwin, etc. He should be ready to read the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital in a couple years, they aren't really that hard to read. I think I read them when I was 16 or so? Just a bit of old-fashioned vocab and they require some patience to think through (especially Das Kapital). I'd highly recommend to anyone to read the original Marx, if just for the sake of understanding the ideas even if you don't believe in them yourself.
posted by 100kb at 11:35 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I asked a friend who is a marxist organizer here in Canada, and the suggestion that came back was this article on what socialism will look like.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:47 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hadas Thier's "A People's Guide to Capitalism" is an introductory book about Marxist principles and how it relates to the modern economy. This is different from an introductory work about communism, specifically, but the reader will absolutely come away with an understanding of Marxist thought and general economic principles. Very up to date, and while chewy also clear, much more informative than its page count belies. I highly recommend it.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 12:13 PM on September 2, 2021

Best answer: Not the first book to read, but if this interest continues, Leon Trotsky's My Life is hands down the most exciting and absorbing autobiography I've ever read. (And no, I'm a socialism-sympathetic lefty, not a Trot.)

It narrates Trotsky's life from childhood to his first revolutionary activities at the age of 17; his arrest and imprisonment at the age of 19; his exile to Siberia at the age of 21; his escape to the West; return to Russia during the 1905 revolution; rearrest and re-exile; re-escape. Then a dozen years of writing and organizing from abroad before his return to help lead the 1917 revolution. Years consolidating Bolshevik rule with Lenin. Years falling out with Stalin. It ends with his final exile in 1929.

What a read! It was written for the working-class people of Russia with both high respect for their intelligence and a talent for engaging and not preaching. it's 99% fascinating story and 1% theory. Obviously, it's not an objective evaluation of Soviet communism, but it does make it abundantly clear how different historical circumstances were from our own.

When I was your son's age, I loved to get in a little over my head with a book as long as it kept me riveted on every page. The first 150 pages -- childhood to teen revolutionary in Tsarist Russia -- are dazzling. Get this book for your son if only so you can enjoy it if he loses interest!
posted by Scarf Joint at 5:08 PM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also autobiography: Eric Hobsbawm's Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life (link here to German edition) is even further over the head of a thirteen-year-old, but it recounts radicalizing as an orphaned immigrant Jewish teen in Berlin from 1931 to 1933 and remaining several kinds of academic communist for the rest of his life. If your kid gets through Trotsky, he may or may not get through this, but at least the first 100 pages (before adulthood and its abstractions) would also be a terrific read for a young communism investigator.
posted by Scarf Joint at 5:27 PM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marx, A Very Short Introduction, does what it says. It might still be slightly hard going at 13 (but you definitely don't need to be at college level), as while it's short and clear, it's not necessarily simplified, but you can read it in a weekend and you'd have a far better understanding of Marx than pretty much anyone who hasn't actively studied him.
posted by Hartster at 1:49 AM on September 3, 2021

Best answer: The Revolutions podcast included a series on the Russian revolution, and I think it's fairly accessible. Episode 10.2 is specifically about Marx and Engels, while the first six or so episodes in the tenth season are about eighteenth century leftist thought more broadly.

EDIT: there's an index of episodes here.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 4:12 AM on September 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Maybe get some of the original works on Audible?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:27 AM on September 3, 2021

Response by poster: Hey, thank you all! Such great suggestions.
Some i think will be a great read for myself, as i definitely need to educate myself to better listen, understand his interest and talk and discuss with him. I am really grateful! Through sheydemtants suggestion i also found more graphic novels (,seems they are still called graphic novels despite being nonfiction?).
Anyway, thank you.
posted by 15L06 at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2021

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