As another dramatic year comes to a close, we present the most-read articles on marxist.com in 2021. We have compiled separate lists for newly published material from the past 12 months, as well as established pieces to which our readers keep returning. We thank all of our supporters and comrades for visiting our site this year for the best Marxist theory, news and analysis. See you in 2022!
2021 has been yet another year marked by sharp twists and turns in the world situation. The year began with the storming of the US Capitol building. It has seen a faltering, chaotic recovery from last year’s crisis that has fueled a spike in inflation, which is now pushing workers to struggle for the defence of their wages. And as the year closes, the world is paying the price of the capitalist class’ bungling incompetence in the resurgence of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.
These convulsions are hammering away at the consciousness of billions of workers and young people. This change in consciousness, though it may often appear imperceptible, is preparing the ground for an epoch of revolutionary struggle. Confidence in the old ruling class, their politicians, media, police force, and every other institution is crumbling bit by bit. A massive anti-establishment mood, and even an anti-capitalist mood, is developing among broad layers of the masses – not in one country, but in every country around the world.
We are living through the opening stages of an epoch of world revolution, which will shake the capitalist system to its very foundations. For those who wish for a peaceful life, we say: you should have chosen another time to be born! But for those who wish to fight, to struggle to overthrow all oppression and exploitation and put an end to the horror of class society, there is no better time to be alive.
But capitalism will not fall of its own volition – not in 2022, and not ever! It will fall when it is overthrown, and to overthrow capitalism, the working class needs clear ideas. That is what we at marxist.com and the International Marxist Tendency aim to build. On the firm foundation stone of Marxist theory, we aim to build a Marxist organisation of theoretically trained cadres, rooted in the movement of the working class. The efforts of this website form part of that collective endeavour.
At marxist.com, we strive not only to bring our readers timely, in-depth analysis of current events in order to offer a perspective and a clear direction amidst the chaos and tumult of our times. We also aim to make this website the world’s foremost source of Marxist theory for the purpose of educating a new generation of Marxist cadres. Unsurprisingly then, many of our most-read pieces of 2021 are original works of theory we have produced over the course of many years, for which thousands of readers return time and again to this website.
As well as a top 10 list of the most-read articles of 2021 written this year, we’ve therefore also included a top 10 list of the all time most-read articles of 2021.
Finally, we would like to say thank you to our readers. What we do at marxist.com is only made possible thanks to the thousands of supporters and members of the International Marxist Tendency all around the world. With correspondents on every continent and in over 40 countries, we are able to produce high-quality analysis of all the key developments unfolding around the world, made richer by the fact that we have members on the ground. Naturally, we have no rich backers, and it is therefore also thanks to the financial contributions of our members and supporters alone that we are also able to maintain a full-time editorial team.
All that is left to do is to say, on behalf of the editorial board of marxist.com: keep up the fight into 2022! There will be no let up in the crisis of capitalism in the coming year, but through our collective effort we can take big strides towards building the powerful Marxist tendency that will change the course of human history. To all of our readers: we wish you a Red New Year and, if you haven’t already done so, we call upon you to join us in the struggle for socialism in our lifetimes by joining the International Marxist Tendency!
TOP 10 READS OF 2021
2021 was the year the chickens started coming home to roost for the Chinese ruling class. In the wake of the 2008 crisis, the Chinese economy was one of the key engines of the recovery of the world economy. The Chinese government responded to the crisis with an unprecedented Keynesian spending plan that kept the economy afloat… but at the expense of inflating massive speculative bubbles.
They are discovering that you can only inflate a speculative debt and property bubble for so long before “what goes up, must come down”. The crisis of Evergrande has brought back memories of the subprime mortgage crisis. Energy shortages have led to massive blackouts affecting much of the country. And now Chinese GDP growth is dramatically decelerating. Class anger is accumulating in the depths of Chinese society, and all of this points to a future of fierce class struggle.
The Chinese ruling class are looking to the future, and they are increasingly gripped by anxiety.
After 20 years, US imperialism’s adventure in Afghanistan ignominiously collapsed this year in a matter of weeks. This was the most humiliating blow that the world’s foremost imperialist power has suffered since its defeat in Vietnam. Indeed, the scenes of panic in Kabul brought back strong echoes of the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.
Thousands of desperate men, women and children fled for their lives to Kabul airport, desperate to escape death at the hands of the Taliban fanatics. But there was nowhere for them to go. They had been betrayed by US imperialism. Having devastated the country through decades of war, the US has now left the Afghan people to their fate.
In the end, the ousting of the Taliban by the bayonets of imperialism could only have had reactionary consequences. This is now clear for all to see. Only the working class and the poor can finally cleanse Afghanistan of fundamentalism, warlordism, poverty and war. As Hamid Alizadeh explained, the Afghan people have been through the most desperate trials, “but time and again they have risen on the back of the most terrible adversity. We have every confidence that they will rise once more and cleanse their country of every shade of obscurantism, reaction, and imperialism.”
On the anniversary of the October Revolution, this year In Defence of Marxism was proud to present an eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution in its third year, as it’s not been seen in a century.
In 1920, the British trade unionist and journalist Walter Meakin travelled to revolutionary Russia. He brought back a unique panorama of the revolution, and its superhuman efforts to create a new world, its trials and hardships.
His articles were serialised in the Daily News. They and his phenomenal collection of photographs have remained unseen for a century, but thanks to his grandson, Steve Musgrave, we are proud to make them available for an online audience for the first time.
Our seventh-most-read article of the year was written in August, as the Taliban was sweeping across Afghanistan and preparing to pounce on Kabul. We had explained that this defeat was inevitable as early as 2001, in fact, as Alan Woods explained at the time, just as US troops had themselves secured Kabul for themselves:
“[T]he Taliban, although wounded, has not been destroyed, and can make a comeback later on, as disillusionment with the new government in Kabul sets in – as it inevitably will.”
No one predicted the speed of the puppet regime’s utter collapse when it came. Having been promised by the Biden administration that there would be no Taliban takeover – and that there certainly would not be scenes of panicked evacuation from the rooftop of the US embassy as in Saigon – the world watched on in astonishment as the 300,000-strong army of Afghanistan collapsed in a week and the Taliban swept the country, later taking Kabul itself.
In the end, no one was prepared to fight to defend a rotten, corrupt puppet regime. When it came to the crutch, many of the warlords and criminals upon which US imperialism based itself switched sides overnight to join the Taliban. This is a defeat that will have lasting consequences for US imperialism that will be felt for years to come.
2021 has provided ample additional proof of the statement made by Trotsky: In the epoch we have entered, “the historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”
From the revolutionary movement in Myanmar in February to the reemergence of the masses on the streets in Sudan following the coup attempt in October, the masses have shown no end in their willingness to struggle. But at each step, they have been frustrated by their reformist and liberal leaderships.
The urgent task today is to build a revolutionary party that can arm the working class with the programme and leadership to overthrow capitalism. This point was drawn out, examined, and excellently illustrated with a host of historical examples in a talk by Julien Arseneau at the 2021 Montreal Marxist Winter School earlier this year, which is now available in this very good article that has proven a big hit with our readers in 2021.
Register now for the Montreal Marxist Winter School 2022, Canada’s biggest annual festival of Marxist ideas. The school runs over two days from 19 to 20 February, and owing to COVID-19 restrictions, this year the whole event will be held online.
The year was kicked off with an unlikely war on the stock market: between redditors and Wall Street. Amateur investors had noticed strange behaviour as major Wall Street hedge funds had begun attempting to ‘short’ the beleaguered high street video games retailer, GameStop. Wishing to give the hedge fund giants a bloody nose, an army of small investors suddenly bought up the retailer’s stock, driving their price to dizzying heights, hoping to deal the Wall Street giants a bloody nose. In this article, Jorge Martín analysed the details of this strange incident.
The episode highlighted not only widespread disgust towards Wall Street, but also the utter insanity of the stock market casino. At the year’s end, mania for cryptocurrencies, NFTs and tech startups has reached stratospheric levels, driven by huge amounts of stimulus money pumped into the economy by central bank print presses. Sooner or later, of course, the speculative bubble will burst. The huge amounts of fictitious capital created in the course of the recovery since 2020 will evaporate, leading to new and dangerous crises for capitalism.
Every year, the representatives of capital meet in the small town of Davos in the Swiss Alps to discuss the ruling class’ strategy for the coming year. This is the “World Economic Forum”.
This year’s gathering was marked by a new mood of fear and alarm. All the talk was about the need for a “Great Reset”, if the ruling class is to avoid revolution. In the wake of the deep crisis of 2020, and with inequality surging and an ever-worsening climate crisis, the strategists of capital are realising that they cannot go on in the old way.
Having rejected state interference in the market for decades, economists and central bankers are now listening eagerly to the snake oil salesmen preaching policies taken from Keynesianism and so-called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). The ruling class has poured printed cash into the system in a desperate bid to avoid social upheaval. They can follow this course for a while but, as Niklas Albin Svenson explains in our fourth-most-read article of the year, eventually they will run out of road and austerity will be back on the agenda. For the ruling class, all roads will ultimately lead to ruin.
In our epoch, the capitalist class, saturated as it is with pessimism and unable to face up to reality, has become the fount of all manner of subjectivist and obscurantist ideas that poison society and confuse even left-wing and radical layers of workers and youth. As such, we believe the time has never been more appropriate for an offensive on this front: to expose these various reactionary philosophical currents, repackaged as something fashionable and “new” on university campuses, and to defend the truths of Marxist philosophy.
In this vein, the International Marxist Tendency has recently launched a campaign for the defence of Marxist philosophy against the subjectivist and obscurantist. As part of that campaign, this year we were proud to re-release Lenin’s classic text, Materialism and Empirio-criticism, an unsurpassed defence of materialism against the empirio-criticism of Mach and Avenarius, an idealist trend that had even begun to find an echo among the Bolsheviks in the wake of the defeat of the 1905 revolution.
The new edition, which can be purchased here, and which is also available as an ebook, comes with a branch new introduction, “In Defence of Materialism”, by Alan Woods, which you can now read on marxist.com. In his introduction, Alan explains how the empio-critics merely rehashed the philosophy of the 18th Century idealist philosopher, Bishop Berkeley. The same fundamental ideas form the basis of the 20th century trend of logical positivism, which has dug deep roots into the sciences.
Keep an eye on marxist.com in the year to come as we continue to produce theoretical material in defence of dialectical materialism.
Whilst capitalism plunged into a crisis without precedents in 2020, 2021 was supposed to be the year that the world economy bounced back stronger than ever.
Indeed, there has been something of a ‘recovery’, but it has been one dogged by the unprecedented disintegration of supply chains, bottlenecks and labour shortages. As chaos reigns, threatening to scupper the recovery, and inflation soars to levels unseen in decades, the world faces the serious threat of ‘stagflation’ for the first time since the 1970s.
This is no accident, as Jonas Foldager explained in an article this winter, “What has caused the unfolding chaos in the world economy?” Follow marxist.com into the new year as we will continue to examine and explain capitalism’s turmoil, drawing out how these express the fundamental underlying contradictions of a system which is traversing its death agony.
The year 2021 has highlighted the importance, now more than ever, of class-conscious workers and youth standing in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.
Since the start of the pandemic, the people of Cuba have suffered tremendous hardship. The collapse of tourism has come on top of a decades’ long blockade by US imperialism – including even-deeper measures introduced by Trump but which have been left in place by Biden.
So when heterogeneous protests erupted in the town of San Antonio de los Baños on 11 July this year, open counter-revolutionary elements latched onto them. They launched protests of their own, attempting to create the image that Cuba needed a “humanitarian intervention” by the “international community”. In short, they wish to create the conditions for imperialist-led regime change.
The attempts by counter-revolutionary elements were meant to culminate in a march on 15 November led by personalities from the culture and arts, which ultimately failed. But the events since then have also brought out another element in the situation. Counter-protests have brought to the streets hundreds of people determined to defend the revolution, including, most notably, a new movement of young revolutionary communists calling themselves the “Red Scarves”. Whilst defending the Cuban Revolution, the movement has raised criticisms of bureaucratism, corruption and inequality. Indeed, the best way to defend the Cuban Revolution is precisely by deepening it.
- Defend the Cuban revolution!
- Down with the imperialist blockade – hands off Cuba!
- No to capitalist restoration – for more socialism!
- Against the bureaucracy – for workers’ democracy and workers’ control!
Follow marxist.com into the new year as we continue to bring analysis and updates on the Cuban Revolution to break the information blockade of the capitalist media.
ALL TIME TOP 10 READS OF 2021
You have seen the top 10 articles written in and published in 2021. But many of this year’s biggest hits are mostly recurring favourites: works of theory and historical analysis, some published many years ago, that remain as enduring resources that thousands of Marxists internationally make good use of every year. And in 2021 has been no different in that respect.
Here we present the top 10 reads of 2021 from all time:
Tenth in the list of the most read articles from 2021, and second among those written in 2021, is “What has caused the unfolding chaos in the world economy?” by Jonas Foldager of the Danish section of the International Marxist Tendency.
Ninth on our list of most-read articles of 2021 is “An introduction to Marx’s Labour Theory of Value”. The idea that it is the amount of labour that goes into producing a commodity determines its value is a very old idea that can be traced back long before Marx.
It was Marx, however, drawing the Labour Theory of Value to its logical conclusion, who unlocked the secret of how the capitalist makes profit: that profit is fundamentally the unpaid labour of the working class. Since Marx laid bare the laws of capitalism, the apologists of capital have sought to systematically discredit the Labour Theory of Value.
At marxist.com, we continue to produce material countering the lies and apologia of bourgeois economists. In that vein, keep an eye out for the forthcoming issue number 36 of the In Defence of Marxism magazine, the theoretical organ of the International Marxist Tendency, which will be out this January. It contains a featured piece, “Libertarianism vs. Marxism” by Adam Booth, which takes to task the 20th century’s most influential apologists of capitalism, Hayek and the Austrian School, who precisely attempted to disprove the Labour Theory of Value.
Did you know that marxist.com not only publishes articles – we also publish books that can be read online? The first of five full length books on our list, The Ideas of Karl Marx was a brand new publication by WellRed Books published in 2018 on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Karl Marx.
200 years after the birth of the great revolutionary Karl Marx, across the world, the capitalist system is in crisis and the working class are moving into action to change their lives. In ruling class circles, no longer do they snidely declare the death of Marx. On the contrary, there is fear and consternation in their ranks. There has, therefore, never been a more urgent time to study his ideas.
This short book contains a series of articles on the man, his life, and his ideas: from an explanation of the philosophy of Marxism; to Marx’s battles against petty-bourgeois anarchist ideas; to Trotsky’s assessment of the Communist Manifesto. And much more!
Number seven in the list is another important work of analysis of current events written in the past year. Trapped between the worldwide economic crisis and the asphyxiating US blockade of the economy, the Cuban Revolution continues to face a host of trials and dangers, both internal and external.
Above all, class conscious workers’ and youth around the world can serve the interests of the Cuban Revolution by fighting to overthrow their own ruling class where they are in order to break Cuba’s isolation. The Cuban Revolution itself is replete with lessons for revolutionaries around the world.
Did you know that at marxist.com, we are continuously updating our Marxist University resource, which collects in-depth analysis on a host of topics, historical and theoretical including the Cuban Revolution, for any comrade wishing to systematise their education? The resource includes writings arranged on some of the greatest revolutions in history, from the English Revolution right down to the Cuban Revolution.
The second full-length book one our list, at number six, it’s Understanding Marx’s Capital, written by members of the International Marxist Tendency, Adam Booth and Rob Sewell.
Published on the 150th anniversary of Capital: volume one, this book forms an essential companion to Marx’s magnum opus.
Capital was a book that revolutionised political economy and for the first time opened our eyes to the real workings of capitalism. At the time, however, it was met with a wall of silence from the mainstream economists and the establishment. Despite this, Capital became regarded in the workers' movement as the Bible of the working class.
The intention of this book is to help guide readers through the pages of volume one of Capital; to bring out the main themes and ideas contained within it; and to discuss the relevance of this great Marxist classic in terms of understanding the crisis-ridden world around us today – and, most importantly, how we can radically transform it.
As part of the International Marxist Tendency’s campaign to combat reactionary philosophical ideas, we intend to systematically take to task the many various idealist trends that predominate on university campuses.
In this popular long read written in 2019, Yola Kipak, a member of the IMT in Austria, takes to task the ideas of ‘queer theory’, which form the theoretical backbone of much of the rubbish of identity politics that infect not only university campuses, but much of the left and the labour movement today.
Drawing upon the writings of individuals such as Simone de Beauvoir, and with prominent advocates including Judith Butler, queer theory first emerged as an academic trend in the 1990s in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ruling class’ offensive against communism and Marxism.
Although masquerading as something ‘radical’, these ideas are anything but. In fact, they are merely a rehash of long-since debunked idealist theories. The task of uniting the oppressed under a socialist, working-class banner depends foremost upon winning the battle against all forms of identity politics, which ultimately serve to divide our class.
As Marxists, we seek to fight against all forms of oppression – be it misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia or anything else. We believe this can only be done by uniting the oppressed under a socialist, working-class banner and striking at the root of oppression: class society and exploitation. This is in contrast to the method of identity politics, which while claiming to fight oppression actually serves to divide the oppressed against one another.
Part of the reason, however, that identity politics first managed to get a foothold among radical intellectuals and youth, was because of the repulsion many felt for the so-called ‘Marxism’ of the Stalinists. Stalinism is the very negation of the Marxist approach. Whilst homosexuality was decriminalised in the former Russian Empire in the wake of the Russian Revolution, in 1934 homosexuality was recriminalised and denounced as a form of a form of “bourgeois depravity” under Stalin. But as this letter from the British communist, Harry Whyte, shows, this reactionary turn by the Stalinist bureaucracy in Moscow was resisted by honest rank-and-file members of the Communist International.
Third on our list is one of a number of classic texts that you can find on marxist.com, “In Defence of October” written by Leon Trotsky in 1932. By 1932, Trotsky had been forced into exile by Stalin and the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. Earlier that year he and his family had been stripped of their Soviet citizenship.
In late 1932, on the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution, Trotsky found himself in Stockholm and was invited to give a talk on the same subject. In this lecture, of which “In Defence of October” is a transcription, Trotsky sets the record straight about the October Revolution. He dispenses with the lies of the Stalinists and the myths that the bourgeoisie have and continue to propagate, such as the idea that the revolution was a mere coup d’état, and sets the record straight, laying forth the real causes of the October Revolution.
Reason in Revolt was written by the Marxist theoretician Alan Woods in 1995, at a time when the ruling class was crowing triumphant after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is the first attempt since Engels’ Dialectics of Nature to systematically apply the philosophy of dialectical materialism to the latest developments in modern science.
What though, one might ask, has a book on science got to do with the fight that revolutionaries wage to overthrow capitalism? As Engels explained 150 years ago, the struggle that the working class must wage against the capitalist class to overthrow this system cannot be fought on the economic and political planes alone. It must also be fought on the theoretical and philosophical plane. Revolutionaries must fight against all reactionary and mystical ideas to free the vanguard of the working class from the influence of the latest trends in bourgeois philosophy.
In this text, Woods surveys a wide range of scientific fields and shows how the philosophy of dialectical materialism is astonishingly confirmed in the latest discoveries in science. He also shows how scientists can also come under the influence of all manner of reactionary philosophical ideas. We see this reflected in biological determinism, which gives a refined pseudo-scientific justification for racism and inequality under capitalism; in the subjectivist ideas associated with the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics; and in the ideas of world-creation connected to Big Bang cosmology.
In the ongoing struggle the International Marxist Tendency is waging against reactionary philosophical trends, we were also proud to announce the publication earlier this year of Alan Woods’ History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective. Originally intended as a part of Reason in Revolt, but too lengthy for inclusion in his earlier work, we believe this text will prove an important new weapon in the philosophical arsenal of revolutionaries. As such we recommend our readers read both texts in connection with one another.
Top of our list, and most-read work of 2021, is Alan Woods’ Bolshevism – The Road to Revolution.
In October 1917, the working class of Russia, led by the Bolshevik Party, seized power for the first time on the scale of an entire nation. This book, the product of extensive original research, is the story of how that party was forged, how it was tempered, and how it won the leadership of the working class of Russia, guiding it to the seizure of power.
It is absolutely vital that revolutionaries today learn and apply those lessons in order to construct the tool that the working class needs in order to seize power today in order to put an end to the horrors of capitalism and open up new vistas for humanity. In short, this book is an unrivalled handbook for revolutionaries.
Get your copy from WellRed Books either as in paperback or ebook format. Read it, discuss it and the wealth of other texts on marxist.com with comrades local to you, and make 2022 a seminal year for the building of the worldwide forces of Bolshevism. Make the coming year a stepping stone towards the world socialist revolution – help build the International Marxist Tendency!