In defence of Marxism

1337B7A5 0CF0 4336 97A1 B6CFEABB3A18One often hears of this caricature of Marxism as a dry, narrow doctrine, which reduces all human thought to economics and the development of the productive forces. Yet even today there are people who like to call themselves Marxists who defend, not the genuine ideas of Marx and Engels in all their richness, breadth and profundity, but the very same “economist” caricature of the bourgeois critics of Marxism. This is not Marxism at all but, to use Hegel’s expression, “die leblosen Knochen eines Skeletts” (the lifeless bones of a skeleton), on which Lenin commented: “What is necessary is not leblose Knochen, but living life.”...

The advanced workers and youth have a thirst for ideas and theory. They want to understand what is happening in society. They are not attracted by tendencies that merely tell them what they already know: that capitalism is in crisis, that there is unemployment, that they live in bad houses, earn low wages and so on. Serious people want to know why things are as they are, what happened in Russia, what Marxism is, and other questions of a theoretical character. That is why theory is not an optional extra, as the “practicos” imagine, but an essential tool of the revolutionary struggle.

– From In defence of theory — or Ignorance never yet helped anybody

Liberal Professor Mr. Tugan-Baranovsky is on the warpath against socialism. This time he has approached the question, not from the political and economic angle, but from that of an abstract discussion on equality (perhaps the professor thought such an abstract discussion more suitable for the religious and philosophical gatherings, which he has addressed?).

The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), driven by Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of SPEW, the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see. Despite the stream of allegations coming from the Taaffe faction, and the rebuttals from the other side, the dispute in reality centres around prestige politics, a highly pernicious tendency that is invariably fatal in a revolutionary organisation.

The following statement by comrade John McInally is a personal account of the nature and reasons for the degeneration of the Socialist Party (SP) and Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). John was a member of the SP (and before that Militant) for more than 40 years, before he came into conflict with the leadership and was deemed to have "placed himself outside" of the organisation.

The crisis unfolding within the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) is reaching a critical phase, and a deep split is now imminent. The Spanish group of the CWI, Izquierda Revolucionaria, which only joined the CWI in 2017, has already split away and what remains of the Mexican and Venezuelan groups have followed suit. The Portuguese group has also left. To help readers understand what is happening, we take this opportunity to publish two opposition documents from 1991 and 1992, when a heated dispute took place within the Militant Tendency

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Last week, the representatives of the Spanish and Portuguese sections of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) walked out of a meeting of Peter Taaffe’s faction within that organisation. They then announced they "would recommend to the Spanish EC and CC that they leave the Faction. [Spanish section general secretary, Juan Ignacio Ramos] also stated that this would mean it would make no sense to remain in the CWI."

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has been plunged into a convulsive crisis, which is most likely going to end in a split. At the centre of the crisis are developments in their Irish section. From the material available to us from their internal discussions it appears that the Irish section is being accused of adapting to identity politics, concentrating on women’s and LGBTQ+ issues to the detriment of work in the trade unions, bending towards reformism and at the same time adopting a sectarian stance. This emerges both from the criticisms of the International Secretariat (IS) majority faction and of one of their MPs, Paul Murphy.

Trotsky, a recent Netflix series produced by Russian state television, is a scandalous misrepresentation of both Trotsky’s life and the October Revolution. Alan Woods and Josh Holroyd respond to this insulting portrayal of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks’ legacy.

Speaking at the 2018 Revolution Festival, Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick of Socialist Appeal provides a Marxist analysis of what role morality plays within class society, and how revolutionaries should derive their ethical framework and decisions.

On 22 November 2018, Bhaskar Sunkara and John Peterson participated in a panel organized at Temple University in Philadelphia by the Temple Marxists, YDSA, and the Utopia Film Club. The editors of Jacobin and Socialist Revolution gave their definitions of socialism, analysed the current state of the socialist movement in the US, and provided their views on the perspectives for a socialist future. The discussion covered a wide range of basic topics of socialist theory and politics, such as the nature of the capitalist state, the role of the Democrats and the two-party system, the state of the US labor movement, and more.

Marxists recognise the enormous achievements of the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Unsurprisingly, many slogans by Mao Zedong found an echo across the world as an alternative to the bureaucratised USSR after the Sino-Soviet split. However, there are significant political differences between the ideas of genuine Marxism and those of Maoism, which should be clarified.

This document, after a thorough discussion at all levels of the International Marxist Tendency over the past year, was approved unanimously by the IMT World Congress held at the end of July 2018 with the original title Marxist Theory and The Struggle Against Alien Class Ideas. Its aim is to draw a line between Marxism and a set of idealistic and postmodernist alien class ideas, which have affected for some time a layer of activists in academic circles and are also being used in a reactionary manner within the international workers' movement.

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left' leaders who are making a dash for the 'centre ground'.

To commemorate the anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg's murder in 1919, we republish the following introduction to a 2014 Mexican edition of her important work, Reform or Revolution. The legacy of this martyr for proletarian revolution endures through her ideas.

As millions in the US are looking for a way out of the impasse of the capitalist system, rooting ourselves in the sound foundations of Marxist theory has never been more important. Ten years ago, few Americans considered themselves socialists, and even fewer were open about it. But life teaches, and conditions determine consciousness. A decade of crisis, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and Trump’s election have led millions to look to socialism for a way out. The skyrocketing growth of Democratic Socialists of America after the 2016 elections is just one example of the dramatic changes in consciousness unfolding around us, a process that is still in its infancy.

In this video from the 2017 October Revolution festival, Daniel Morley (of the Socialist Appeal Editorial Board) discusses the theoretical differences between the philosophies of Marxism and postmodernism.

In this talk at a 2017 day school on the Russian Revolution, Daniel Morley of the Socialist Appeal editorial board discusses the question of revolutionary insurrection, examining how Marxists approach the question of the seizure of power.

The crisis of capitalism has given rise to a mood of questioning and mass movements across the world. From the Spanish Indignados, to the Syntagma Square in Greece, and more recently the Nuit Debout in France, youth are starting to take action and challenge the capitalist system. As part of this general mood, recent years have also seen a number of spontaneous movements erupt against the multiple forms of oppression that different layers of the working class experience under capitalism.

In this talk from a recent Socialist Appeal day school, Alan Woods (editor of In Defence of Marxism) explores Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution and how it has been vindicated throughout history - both in the positive sense, by the Russian Revolution, and in the negative, by the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the deepest crises capitalism has ever faced. While the 99% are being asked to pay for the crisis, the 1% are amassing wealth at an ever accelerating pace. The saturating level of scandal and corruption in the establishment is alienating millions from traditional politics. All of this is causing a deep questioning of capitalist society. Many are looking for an alternative to the system that we have, and a growing number are looking towards revolutionary socialism for the answer.

The past two decades have witnessed a barrage of propaganda against Marxism and its revolutionary heritage. Since the collapse of Stalinism – not socialism, but a monstrously deformed caricature of Marxism - from one front to another the mainstream media, universities, professors and historians have gone on the offensive to discredit Marxism. We examine here the most common myths about Marxism and socialism.

It is in his writings on Peru and Latin America that Mariátegui’s analysis on revolution in colonial countries really stands out. As he pointed out in 1928, “The Latin American Revolution will be nothing more and nothing less than a stage, a stage of the world revolution. It will simply and clearly be the socialist revolution.”[Part One]

José Carlos Mariátegui was founder and general secretary of the Peruvian Socialist Party, set up in 1928, that later became the Communist Party. There is much mythology on the left about him. Here José Pereira puts the record straight explaining how this great Latin American Marxist, in spite of some errors, had reached the same general conclusions as Lenin and Trotsky on the fundamental questions facing the revolution in colonial countries. (First published in America Socialista, No. 6, August 2012)

At the recent Marxist summer school in London, Alan Woods - author of "Bolshevism: the road to revolution" - explores the ideas of Bolshevism and discusses the vital role of Lenin and Trotsky in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Fred Weston, Editor of the 'In Defence of Marxism' website, talks about Karl Marx and the attempt of building the first international Workers' Party. This talk about the early days of the ideas of scientific Socialism highlights invaluable lessons for revolutionaries today.

At the recent annual  Marxist Winter School, this year hosted by the UCLU Marxist Society in London, the agenda was was dedicated to the 130th anniversary of Karl Marx’s death, with sessions covering the important contributions that Marx made towards the worlds of politics, economics, history, and philosophy. Here we provide the video of the session, led by Jorge Martin about the key question of building a Marxist international organisation.

How many times have we heard university professors, economists, politicians and journalists declaring that Marx was wrong and that although he had some insights in to the workings of capitalism he failed to see the dynamism of the capitalist system and its ability to recover from crises and move ever forward? However, in the past few years, as the system has been sinking into its most serious crisis in history, every now and then we hear commentators pointing out that Marx was right. The latest is an article published by Time magazine yesterday, called Marx’s Revenge: How Class

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At the recent annual Marxist Winter School, this year hosted by the UCLU Marxist Society in London, the agenda was was dedicated to the 130th anniversary of Karl Marx’s death, with sessions covering the important contributions that Marx made towards the worlds of politics, economics, history, and philosophy. Here we provide the videos of the opening and closing sessions, by Alan Woods, regaring the The Relevance of Marxism Today and the tasks of the Marxists.

Alex Grant, editor of the Canadian Marxist journal Fighback, speaks to a class of 150 students at Toronto's York University about the topic "Is Marxism still relevant?". The video was recorded in the autumn of 2012.

“The news of the death of capitalism is at least premature, the economic and social system that has dominated the world for hundreds of years is not even sick, just look at China to be convinced and see the future. In the East, the masses of peasants are entering into the world of waged labour, leaving the rural world and becoming proletarians. A new phenomenon has been born, unprecedented in history, state capitalism, where the old enlightened bourgeoisie, creative, even if predatory – such as Marx described in the Communist Manifesto – has been substituted by public institutions. In short, we are not seeing the apocalypse and no revolution is around the corner. Capitalism is

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As the 1960s became the 1970s, Hobsbawm stopped defending the nationalised planned economy and became part of the Eurocommunist tendency whithin the Communist Party. He provided theoretical justifications not only for the dissolution of the Communist Party but also for the right-wing turn of the Labour Party in Britain, something which earned him the epithet “Kinnock's favourite Marxist”. [part 1]

News of the death of Eric Hobsbawm on 1st October was marked by an unprecedented outburst of flattery and adulation in the bourgeois media. For the past few weeks, the flood of obsequious obituaries exceeded all bounds. He was described variously as “the most widely read, influential and respected British intellectual and historian from the Marxist tradition”; “Britain's most distinguished Marxist historian”, and even “one of the leading historians of the 20th century”.

Fred Weston, editor of the 'In Defence of Marxism', talking at the ULU Marxist Summer School on 'What will Socialism look like?'

 

With the greatest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression, a key question is what is the alternative to this crisis prone system? With the announcement of the most savage austerity package since the 1920s, which will completely undermine everything that supposed to constitute a civilized society, what is the real alternative? Can the capitalism be patched up and reformed, or do we need a fundamental change in society -- a new socialist society? But what is socialism? Hear Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, speak to the students of the ULU Marxist Society in London.

At a time when the Cuban Revolution is facing great dangers, a serious debate is opening up in the ranks of the Cuban Communists. Last week’s Marxist conference organised by the study group "Cuba: Theory and Society" under the auspices of the Instituto de Filosofia de La Habana in November 2010 to discuss Socialism in the XXI Century in the run-up to the forthcoming Party Congress therefore assumes a particular importance. Among the few foreign guests invited to address this event was the editor of Marxist.com, Alan Woods, whose latest book Reformism or Revolution, has attracted a lot of interest in Cuba. We are publishing today the text submitted by comrade Woods to the conference.

Alan Woods speaking on "What is Marxism?" to a packed meeting of students at the University of London at the ULU Marxist Society.

Seventy years since the assassination of Leon Trotsky bourgeois writers and historians are attempting to bury the man again. They are constantly demonizing him and his ideas. That is because they understand that his ideas are not dead, but very alive and have never been so relevant as they are today, in this period of crisis of capitalism.

An avalanche of books has recently been published to discredit Lenin, Trotsky and the Russian Revolution. First and foremost of these writers is Professor Robert Service. The aim of his latest book on Trotsky is to prove that Bolshevism leads to Stalinism and totalitarianism. Here Rob Sewell sets the record straight and explains the huge gulf that divided genuine Bolshevism from the monster of Stalinism that was built on the physical destruction of the Bolshevik party.

The publication of the first volume of Ted Grant’s Selected Works is an important step toward making his ideas more widely known to a new generation of Marxists in the United States. In the book's introduction, Workers International League National Secretary John Peterson explains some of the background and context to this first volume, which focuses on the nature and crisis of Stalinism and the USSR. Grant’s writings on the momentous and complex events of the 20th Century are a textbook example of how to apply the ideas and methods of Lenin and Trotsky to the world around us. Order your copy ...

In 1846 Weitling complained that the “intellectuals” Marx and Engels wrote only about obscure matters of no interest to the workers. Marx angrily responded with the following words, “Ignorance never yet helped anybody.” Marx’s response is as valid today as it was then.

Marxism, or Scientific Socialism, is the name given to the body of ideas first worked out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In their totality, these ideas claim to provide a theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society - socialism. What relevance do these ideas, over 150 years old have to today's society? Alan Woods spoke at a recent meeting of the ULU Marxist Society in London on the relevance of Marxism today.

What is Socialism?

John Peterson, National Secretary of the Workers International and editor of Socialist Appeal, interviewed by Our World Today on the subject of "What is Socialism?". The interview covers many of the traditional arguments made against socialism and defends the banner of revolutionary Marxism.

As a result of the economic and social convulsions, many people are beginning to question the nature of the capitalist system. But does Marxism offer an alternative in todays world? Is there still a class struggle? Or are we all middle class now? Many people are disgusted by the huge salaries of big business, but does this mean they are in favour of socialism? Yesterday Alan Woods answered these questions at a ULU Marxist Society meeting in London with an audience of 25.

Today is the 68th anniversary of the brutal assassination of Leon Trotsky by a Stalinist agent. We commemorate this event by publishing the transcription of his address to the N.Y. Hippodrome Meeting. The speech "I Stake My Life!" was delivered by telephone from Mexico City for the opening event of the Dewey Commission on the Moscow Trials on February 9th, 1937.

Leon Sedov

Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the murder of Trotsky's eldest son - Leon Sedov - by agents of the Stalinist secret police, the GPU. He was thirty-two years of age. This crime constituted part of the systematic hounding and murder of Trotsky's key supporters and family, whose only ‘crime' was to defend genuine Marxism against Stalin and the crimes of the Russian bureaucracy.

Stalin’s article, Some Questions Concerning the History of Bolshevism, reached me after much delay. After receiving it, for a long time I could not force myself to read it, for such literature sticks in one’s throat like sawdust or mashed bristles. But still, having finally read it, I came to the conclusion that one cannot ignore this performance, if only because there is included in it a vile and barefaced calumny about Rosa Luxemburg.