In the 1970s, Cockshott was a member of the British and Irish Communist Organisation, but he and several other members became unhappy with B&ICO's position on Workers' control. Cockshott and several other B&ICO members resigned and formed a new party, the Communist Organisation in the British Isles. During the 1980s when studying for his PhD in Edinburgh he was recruited to the CPGB along with fellow computer science student Muffy Calder.
He has made contributions in the fields of image compression, 3D television, parallel compilers and medical imaging, but became known to a wider audience for his proposals in the multi-disciplinary area of economic computability, most notably as co-author of the book Towards a new socialism, advocating for more efficient and democratic planning of a complex economy.
- What is the Communist Organisation in the British Isles? in Proletarian, No. 1, c. 1974.
- Allin Cottrell & W.Paul Cockshott, Towards a new socialism (Nottingham, England: Spokesman, 1993). Retrieved: 17 March 2012.
- "Paul Cockshott - Towards a new Socialism (1/3)". Video produced by Oliver Ressler on Paul Cockshott and his planned economy-model. Transcription of a video by O. Ressler, recorded in Glasgow, GB, 25 min., 2006
- Towards a new socialism, complete book download.
- Len Brewster on "Towards a new Socialism? by W. Paul Cockshott and Allin F. Cottrell. (Nottingham, U.K.: Spokesman Books, 1993)", Review Essay, The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol.7, No.1 (Spring 2004): 65-77.; Paul Cockshott, "Notes for a critique of Brewster" (June 20, 2009).