What follows is an excerpt from Maurice Cornforth’s 1952 Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics.
II. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF MARXISM-LENINISM
(A) GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO MARXIST THEORY
This little book was written by Stalin as a young man of twenty-six, when he was leading the party in Transcaucasia. At that time a group of anarchists was disrupting the Transcaucasian workers’ organisations, and Stalin set out to explain the ideas of Marxism in opposition to those of the anarchists. The book was addressed to the ordinary rank and file workers, and contains a very simple and popular exposition of the fundamentals of Marxist theory; it is a model of how profound questions of theory should be linked with the immediate tasks of the working class struggle.
The book consists of three short chapters. The first two deal respectively with the dialectical method and the materialist theory. Here are set forth the same ideas which Stalin was to elaborate more fully in his Dialectical and Historical Materialism.
The third chapter deals with socialism. Stalin here explains the nature of capitalism, the nature of the future socialist society and of the transition from socialism to communism, the grounds for maintaining the inevitability of the advance to socialism, the nature of the working class struggle, the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the tasks of the working class party.