Barack Obama has declared his intention to return to open intervention in the Middle East, but the antiwar movement remains too paralyzed to make sense of the situation. It may seem odd to be reviewing a book that is now past its twelfth birthday, but the content of this book is incredibly relevant to today’s world, and a proper understanding of its virtues and failings may prove useful in light of recent events. Author Howard Zinn was widely respected as a revolutionary scholar and friend of the oppressed. This reputation is well deserved, but Zinn was never a Marxist, and his analysis of war and terrorism is based more on bourgeois morality than on a real understanding of the class struggle.

Nearly twice a week in the USA, a black person is killed by a white cop. In Ferguson, Missouri, the death of yet another young black man at the hands of the police was one too many. Necessity expressed itself through accident, and the murder of Mike Brown unleashed a wave of pent-up outrage and indignation across the country. The daily protests and nightly confrontations with the police, state troopers, and National Guard flooded the media with scenes reminiscent of modern day Gaza, Iraq—or the US in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the United States, and throughout the more advanced countries of the West, the numbers for youth unemployment are approaching “third world” levels. Public education is being slashed across the country, as state governments reckon with massive deficits, transferred from the private sector through immense bailouts of the banks. 1.5 million children in the U.S. are homeless. To put it bluntly, the future for young people in America is bleak. In these conditions, millions of youth are beginning to question whether capitalism has anything to offer.

The Communist Manifesto opens with the lines, "A spectre is haunting Europe." Over 160 years later it appears that the spectre of Marxism is as potent as ever, with supporters and detractors increasing daily. Why is it that an old German philosophy student, buried over 100 years ago in Highgate cemetery in London, excites such controversy?

Eleanor Marx, daughter of the greatest political scientist in history, faced the formidable task of living up to her family name in the turbulent period during the birth of the organised labour movement in Britain. What she managed to achieve in this period, under the influence of her father’s ideas, makes Rachel Holmes’ new biography Eleanor Marx – A Life, an appropriately impressive project.

The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The day of this celebration was to be April 21. At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year.

“Human history is like palaeontology. Owing to a certain judicial blindness even the best intelligences absolutely fail to see the things which lie in front of their noses. Later, when the moment has arrived, we are surprised to find traces everywhere of what we failed to see.” - Karl Marx, Letter to Engels, 25th of March, 1868

Reform or revolution? This has been the main ideological debate in the labour movement for the past century. Today, the crisis of capitalism poses the question sharply. Unlike in the past, however, the material basis for reformism has been eroded. The cupboard is bare. Austerity, heightened class struggle, and revolutionary upheaval are on the order of the day.

Eighty years ago today [February 12], Austrian workers rose in a heroic armed struggle against the rise of fascism. A recently found historical document sheds light on the barbarism of the so-called “Christian-Social” fascists in 1934.

In 1933 Trotsky dealt with the question of the relevance of democratic demands as the German working class was being crushed by the rise of Hitler. Here we publish an introduction to Trotsky’s article, Fascism and Democratic Slogans (July 1933) together with the original article. Written for an Iranian audience, it explains the need for Marxists to be in the forefront of the struggle for democratic demands, while at the same time explaining that the democratic aspirations of the masses can only be satisfied in the struggle for socialism.

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