Alan Woods

It was with a deep sense of sadness and personal loss that Ana and myself learned of the death of our dear old friend and comrade, Bob Lee, last Friday. We had been very close for many years, and we learned to love and respect him as a great comrade, a tireless fighter and above all as a warm, loving and generous human being.

Yes! It’s true! You did read that right. President Donald Trump has sacked his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, telling him his services are “no longer needed”.

I did not believe that it was possible for the low esteem in which I hold modern academics in general, and bourgeois historians in particular, to sink any lower than it already was. But that belief was misplaced. I have just had the misfortune to watch a three-part series put out by BBC Channel Four with the title: ‘Charles I, Downfall of a King’. I now hold the intellectual qualities of our modern historians at a slightly lower level than those of Mr Bean. At least Mr Bean can be mildly amusing at times, but our self-appointed intellectuals lack even that redeeming virtue.

In July, Wellred Books will release Spain's Revolution Against Franco: The Great Betrayal (available for pre-order now!) The author, Alan Woods, was a participant in the last phase of the struggle against Franco. He explains how a revolutionary movement of the working class defeated the regime – and could have gone further but for the betrayals of the workers’ leadership. The following article by Alan provides a general overview of the events discussed in far greater detail in the book.

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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Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, comments on President Trump's recent state visit to Britain. With Theresa May stepping down, Tory leadership contenders have made a lot of noise about how Britain will 'reclaim sovereignty' and 'take back control' after Brexit. But the events surrounding Trump's visit expose this as a complete charade. Far from achieving a favourable trade deal with the USA, the Tory government is preparing the ground for American big business to sweep in and pick at whatever scraps are left of the British economy after Brexit.

On 28 June 1914, two pistol shots shattered the peace of a sunny afternoon in Sarajevo. Those shots reverberated around Europe and shattered the peace of the whole world. This was the beginning of the Great Slaughter. Could it have been avoided? Alan Woods uses the method of Marxism to answer this question. He explains that, actually, whilst individuals play an important role in history, to explain events such as wars, one must look at deeper causes.

Leonardo da Vinci died 500 years ago today in 1519. Da Vinci was an absolute giant in the history of human thought and culture. Alan Woods pays tribute to the great artist, scientist and philosopher, whose life and ideas were revolutionary in so many fields.

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.

The last couple of months have seen a ramping-up of attempts by the US to launch a coup in Venezuela. Under orders from the White House, Juan Guaidó declared himself “president in charge” at a street tally. Immediately, the rogue’s gallery of Trump, Bolsonaro, Macri and others recognised Guaidó, then called on the Venezuelan army to declare itself loyal to this new ‘president’.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism and founding member of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, was interviewed on teleSUR English about the ongoing, US-led coup attempt in Venezuela. Alan condemns the position of the UK government which is supporting the coup and withholding billions in Venezuelan gold. Alan also denounces the threat of military aggression which is being prepared under the guise of 'humanitarian aid'.

It is a well-known fact that accident can play a considerable role in both history and the lives of individuals. In the course of my life I have observed many accidents and extraordinary coincidences. But I have never experienced such a unique and unforeseeable concatenation of circumstances as that which I am about to relate here.

Today, on Thursday 17 January 2019, at half-past-twelve local time, the mortal remains of Alberto Arregui, whose sudden death we reported yesterday, were consigned to the flames at the crematory of the Cementerio Sur, Madrid. The editor of marxist.com, comrade Alan Woods, pays tribute to the memory of a man who devoted his entire life to the cause of Marxism and the socialist revolution.

This morning we were informed of the shocking news of the sudden death of comrade Alberto Arregui, a leading Spanish Marxist whom I first met during the underground struggle against the Spanish dictatorship in 1970s. He was then known by his party name, Manu, and many of us still used to call him by that name. Old habits die hard.

As we step into a new year, the world is facing a decisive turning point. The crisis of capitalism is reaching a new level – one that threatens to overthrow the entire existing world order that was painfully put together after the Second World War. 10 years after the financial collapse of 2008, the bourgeoisie is nowhere near solving the economic crisis. 

The following is an introductionto the latest publication by Marxist Books,The Revolutionary Philosophy of Marxism, by the editor of In Defence of Marxism, Alan Woods. This new selection of writings on dialectical materialism is now available for purchase at a special launch price on MarxistBooks.com.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the magnificent gilets jaunes movement in France, which has exploded out of nowhere to land a blow against the ruling class. Ever since his election as president of France in May 2017, Emmanuel Macron has been held up as a poster boy for liberalism by the European establishment. But the massive and militant yellow vests movement has shattered this delusion, demonstrating that there is a profound anger amongst workers and youth towards the broken status quo of inequality and austerity that the 'Jupiterian' president and the gilded elite defend.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the historic political crisis taking place in Britain, as the Tory Prime Minister's fate hangs in the balance. As Alan notes, the UK was once considered one of the most stable countries in the world. But now it is a source of enormous instability for world capitalism. And the crisis is not confined to Britain. May, Macron, and Merkel are all facing huge difficulties at home, as the broken status quo collapses around them. Only the call for a socialist Europe can offer a way forward.

40 years ago today, the Spanish Constitution was approved after decades of brutal dictatorship under Franco. But as Alan Woods (himself a witness to these historic events) explains, the so-called Transition to Democracy was a colossal betrayal cooked up by the leaders of the Spanish working-class, which left the main pillars of the reactionary old order intact.

On 20 October 2018, the White House published a document, entitled ‘The Opportunity Costs of Socialism’, which recognises the rising popularity of socialism in the United States (particularly amongst the young) and attempts to provide a scientific rebuttal in favour of capitalism. Alan Woods replies to this document’s slanders, and investigates why socialist ideas are gaining ground in the United States of America.

In the final installment of Alan Woods' reply to the White House's slanders against socialism, he discusses the terrible financial and human cost of American capitalist imperialism. He points to the clear superiority of a planned economy, and explains that a transition to socialism in America (given its vast productive forces) would be far easier than in backward countries like Russia in 1917, and would be a colossal advance towards the goal of world socialism.

In the third part of Alan Woods’ reply to Trump’s advisers’ so-called empirical critique of socialism, he addresses their gross mischaracterisation of the Nordic economies, Venezuela and the USSR. Alan also refutes the accusation that socialism will inevitably lead to food shortages and economic ruin; and responds to the falsehood that socialists want to “nationalise everything”.

We publish here In Defence of Marxismeditor, Alan Woods's brand new introduction to a German edition of his important series, Class Struggles in the Roman Republic. After explaining the historical materialist method, Alan explores the class forces in ancient civilisations, the role of the individual in history, the falsehood of 'objective' history, and the contradictions underpinning slave society that were ultimately the reason for Rome's descent and decline. He then relates the lessons of the ancient world to modern capitalist society, which like the last days of Rome is also teetering on the brink of collapse. The choice before us is socialism or barbarism.

We publish Alan Woods’ guest introduction to a special edition of Farsi-language art magazine, Contemporary Scene, called Capitalism and Art. The edition contains a series of articles about Marxism and culture, many of which were previously published on Marxist.com.

7 November is the anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which altered the entire course of human history. The below article by Alan Woods gives an excellent overview of the revolution as well as highlighting its main lessons. If you want to learn even more, check out our special page www.bolshevik.info for detailed analysis, reading guides, videos and much more about this momentous event.

I have been asked by my Swedish comrades to write a brief preface to Lenin’s State and Revolution – a task which I readily agreed to, given the enormous importance of this work for the worldwide struggle for socialism. Strangely enough, the question of the state, despite its colossal significance, is something that does not normally occupy the attention of even the most advanced workers.

Using a wealth of primary sources, Alan Woods reveals the real evolution of Bolshevism as a living struggle to apply the method of Marxism to the peculiarities of Russia. Woods traces this evolution from the birth of Russian Marxism, and its ideological struggle against the Narodniks and the trend of economism, through the struggle between the two strands of Menshevism and Bolshevism, and up to the eventual seizure of power. 'Bolshevism: The Road to Revolution' is a comprehensive history of the Bolshevik Party, from its early beginnings through to the seizure of power in October 1917.

The First World War was becoming a catastrophe for Russia. From the front line there was news of defeat after defeat. The breakdown of the economy produced a shortage of bread. Crowds of half-starved and desperate women queued outside shops for bread that never arrived. But at the top of Russian society things were very different.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. The apologists of capitalism, and their faithful echoes in the labour movement, try to comfort themselves with the thought that the collapse of the USSR signified the demise of socialism. But what failed in Russia was not socialism but a caricature of socialism. Contrary to the oft-repeated slanders, the Stalinist regime was the antithesis of the democratic regime established by the Bolsheviks in 1917.

The following article was published in the first issue of the new Marxist theoretical magazine, Lal Salaam, published in Pakistan.

On Monday 17 October, the Morning Star published a review of the new edition of Trotsky’s biography of Stalin written by Andrew Murray. While admitting that “this book has literary and historical merit,” Murray states that “it has much less as an actual biography of Stalin”. How does he justify these claims?

Shakespeare transformed English literature, reaching heights that before were unheard-of and which have not been reached subsequently. Like a blazing meteorite he shot across the firmament and cast a glorious light on an entire period in our history. His impact on world literature was arguably greater than any other writer. His works have been translated into every language. For centuries after his death his star has not dimmed but shines as brightly as on the first day.

This work by Alan Woods, provides a comprehensive explanation of the Marxist method of analysing history. This first part establishes the scientific basis of historical materialism. The ultimate cause of all social change is to be found, not in the human brain, but in changes in the mode of production.

The publication of the Mexican edition of Lenin’s Imperialism, could scarcely come at a more appropriate time. No book has ever explained the phenomena of modern capitalism better that this. All of Lenin’s predictions concerning the concentration of capital, the dominance of the banks and finance capital, the growing antagonism between nation states and the inevitability of war arising out of the contradictions of imperialism have been shown to be true by the entire history of the last 100 years.

100 years ago, on 5th September 1915, a small group of international socialists gathered in the tiny Swiss village of Zimmerwald. This was the first attempt to unite those socialists who were opposed to the War.

We have entered into a new period on an international scale: a period of deep economic crisis, social and political instability. The masses everywhere are beginning to question things that were previously taken for granted. The whole political scene is a seething cauldron. In such a period sharp and sudden changes are implicit in the situation. The Scottish referendum was just such a sudden change, a political earthquake that upset all the calculations of the politicians. It represented a fundamental turn in the situation.

Hieronymus Bosch was one of the most remarkable and original painters of all time. His works were painted five hundred years ago, yet they seem astonishingly modern, anticipating surrealism. This is the art of a world in a state of turbulence, torn by contradictory tendencies – a world in which the light of reason has been extinguished and where animal passions have gained the upper hand, a world of terror and violence, a living nightmare. In short – a world very like our own. Alan Woods examines it from the standpoint of historical materialism.

Recently the Spanish Marxist Tendency published a new edition of Felix Morrow's classic Revolution and counterrevolution in Spain with a new introduction by Alan Woods. and the book has already been sold out and a second edition is in preparation. Today we are publishing the introduction by Alan Woods which provides a brief analysis of the reasons for the defeat of the Spanish Revolution of 1931-37 while also dealing with the resurgence of the Spanish workers' movement in the 1960s and 70s and drawing the lessons for today.

The publication in English of The Man Who Loved Dogs by the Cuban author, Leonardo Padura is a major literary and political event. I read this remarkable novel when it came out in Spanish and it made a profound impression on me. I had intended to write a review then, but was prevented from doing it by a combination of circumstances. With the greatest pleasure I will now rectify this omission.

The ideas of Marx have never been more relevant than they are today. This is reflected in the thirst for Marxist theory at the present time. In this article, Alan Woods deals with the main ideas of Karl Marx and their relevance to the crisis we're passing through today.

“The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”. (Marx, Second Thesis on Feuerbach.)

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”.

On 31 July Gore Vidal died at his home in Los Angeles from complications arising from pneumonia. He was 86 and had been ill for some time. As I was away on holiday at the time, I did not find out about this till later. The comrades in charge of Marxist.com decided to republish an article I had written in July 2002 with the title The decline and fall of the American empire, based on a television interview with the American writer.

Twenty years ago the powerful repressive Stalinist police states fell one after another under the pressure of mass upsurges. The collapse of Stalinism was a dramatic event and a turning point in world history. But in retrospect it will be seen as only the prelude to something even more dramatic: the death agony of world capitalism.

The present period is the most stormy and convulsive period in history. Globalization now manifests itself as a global crisis of capitalism. Given the depth of the crisis and the worsening conditions, things are developing very quickly. The stage is set for a general revival of the class struggle, and in fact, this process has already begun.

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