Fundamentals of Marxism

Fundamentals of MarxismKarl Marx explained that capitalism is a chaotic system of production beyond the control of humanity. While it raised human productive capacity higher than anytime before, it is doomed to plunge society into ever-greater crises. But Marx also explained that the system creates the modern proletariat. This class is set to overthrow the capitalist class and, on the basis of modern production, build a planned economy to use the resources of society for the benefit of all. These are not outdated ideas but vastly more in touch with the general processes in our world today, than most modern texts.

Marx developed his ideas as a direct continuation of the greatest thinkers of German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism. More than anything, Marx developed a method, a comprehensive philosophy, and a world outlook purely derived from the material world that we live in. Marxism is the science of the underlying laws that govern nature and society. It is only by studying these laws that we not only achieve the best understanding of society, but also discover the role and tasks of revolutionaries.

Far from a dead, dry ideology, Marxism is the science of revolution, a guide to action. For any revolutionary today, a serious study of the ideas of Marxism is an urgent necessity in order to understand the working of the world that we are trying to change.

– From Reading guide: the ideas of Karl Marx

Speaking at a 2018 'Marx in a Day' event, celebrating Karl Marx's 200th birthday, Alan Woods (author of 'Reason in Revolt') discusses the philosophy of Marxism - dialectical materialism. 

Two centuries ago, a child was born whose very name would cause the world’s ruling classes to tremble at a communistic revolution. And yet, despite their century-long efforts to discredit, mock, and distort him, Karl Marx’s specter continues to haunt them. The reason is simple: Marx was right! More than ever, his books, pamphlets, speeches, notes, and letters provide an unparalleled wealth of ideological and practical tools for the working class in its struggle for a better world.

In this talk from a 2018 'Marx in a Day' event, celebrating Karl Marx's 200th birthday and discussing his key ideas, Rob Sewell (editor of Socialist Appeal) explains the fundamental concepts of Marxist economics.

In this video from Socialist Appeal's "Marx in a Day" event in 2018 (which celebrated Karl Marx's 200th birthday), Josh Holroyd discusses the contribution made by the great revolutionary thinker towards our understanding of history.

No set of ideas has been pronounced dead more frequently than that of Marxism. Yet, 200 years after the birth of Karl Marx, his ideas stand as vibrant as ever, while bourgeois thought is at an impasse, unable to truly grasp the events that are shaking up the world of our time.

This short book, released for the two hundredth birthday of Marx, 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. It should be read by all class-conscious workers as the beginning of the study of the ideas of Marxism.

100 years ago, the masses in Russia - led by the Bolsheviks - took power. For Marxists, this is undoubtedly the greatest event in human history; the first time - with the brief exception of the Paris Commune - when the oppressed and exploited rose up and overthrew the old order.

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

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.

“It is, therefore, from the history of nature and human society that the laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself.” (Engels)

Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, looks at the ongoing crisis of capitalism, the growing inequality in the world today, and the potential for transforming our lives on the basis of modern technology, and explains why you should join the fight for the revolutionary socialist transformation of society.

This book is aimed specifically at newcomers to Marxism. A bestseller now in its second edition, it comprises introductory pieces on the three component parts of Marxist theory, corresponding broadly to philosophy, social history and economics: dialectical materialism, historical materialism and Marxist economics. Complementing these introductions are key extracts from some of the great works of Marxism written by its most outstanding figures – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.

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.

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.

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.

Capitalism is in its deepest crisis in its history. It is an economic, social and political crisis, which is now expressing itself in political turmoil and growing class struggle across the globe. While the ruling class attempts to bury Marxism, it has in fact never been so relevant as it is today. In this updated article Alan Woods explains the essence of Marxism and its role today.

The question of the State in capitalist society is of key importance for Marxists. We do not see it as an impartial arbiter standing above society. The fundamental essence of every state, with its “armed bodies of men”, police, courts and other trappings is that it serves the interests of one class in society, in the case of capitalism, the capitalist class.

We are publishing the first of what will be a series of Marxist study guides. The purpose is to provide a basic explanation of the fundamental ideas of Marxism with a guide to further reading and points to help organise discussion groups around these ideas. We are starting with dialectical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism.

We are reproducing a slightly edited version of What is Marxism? by Rob Sewell and Alan Woods, last published in 1983 to celebrate the centenary of the death of Karl Marx. The three articles on the fundamental aspects of Marxism, Marxist Economics, Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism were originally published separately in the 1970s. These articles are a good, brief introduction to the basic methods of Marxism and can serve as a first approach to the ideas developed by Marx and Engels.

At first sight it may seem that the republication of The Communist Manifesto requires an explanation. How can one justify a new edition of a book written almost 150 years ago? Yet in reality the Manifesto is the most modern of books.

Trotsky's 'ABC of Materialist Dialectics' is a brilliant short explanation of Marxist philosophy. It was written as part of a defence of Marxism against a middle class revisionist tendency in the American Trotskyist movement in the late 1930s, which attempted to challenge its basic principles. As opposed to pragmatism and empiricism, Trotsky defended dialectical materialism as a richer, fuller, more comprehensive view of society and life in general. 

"The working class must break up, smash the “ready-made state machinery,” and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it."

This marvellous little pamphlet by James Connolly has introduced millions of workers to the basic ideas of socialism. We are reprinting it so that the working class and youth of today can continue to read it and profit from its arguments.

This work was originally the first three chapters of a larger work, a polemic against Eugen Dühring entitled Anti-Dühring, which was first published in 1878. This selection, in pamphlet form, first appeared in English in 1892, and along with the Manifesto of the Communist Party, quickly became one of the most popular works of Marxist theory.

Critique of the Gotha Programme is a critique of the draft programme of the United Workers' Party of Germany. In this document Marx address the dictatorship of the proletariat, the period of transition from capitalism to communism, the two phases of communist society, the production and distribution of the social goods, proletarian internationalism, and the party of the working class.

This pamphlet was commissioned by the Communist League in 1847 and was first published on February 21, 1848. It was co-written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and is probably the most influential political writing of all time. It outlines the basic perspectives of what would subsequently be referred to as “Marxism.” These ideas have formed the basis for revolutionary struggles throughout the world up to the present day.

With Marx philosophy finally emerges out of the dark and airless cellar to which it was confined for centuries by scholastic thought and dragged out, blinking, into the light of day. Here at last thought is united with activity – not the one-sided purely intellectual activity of the scholar but real, sensuous human activity.