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

We publish a talk by Alan Woods on the Marxist's attitude to individual terrorism, given at the Socialist Appeal day school in London late last year. Of particular relevance following the assasination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan recently, socialism must oppose acts of indiviual terrorism - 'liberals with bombs' - because of the reactionary role they play in the labour movement.

This book demonstrates that the Russian Revolution, a model for a victorious, popular revolution in a semi-colonial country in the era of imperialism, required not a bourgeois-democratic, but a socialist revolution for the people to take power. The book goes back to basics, critically analysing and comparing Lenin’s and Trotsky’s own writings, which are sited in their source and inspiration - the Russian Revolution of 1905. It is shown that Lenin, in October 1917, adopted the perspectives of Permanent Revolution: that to finally rid Russia of autocracy, and legitimise the peasants’ seizure of the land, the Russian Revolution required the introduction of the dictatorship of the

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Fred Weston of the International Marxist Tendency, and editor of In Defence of Marxism, talks on Leon Trotsky's theory of the Permanent Revolution. This marxist concept constitued the main ideological opposition to Stalin's theory of 'socialism in one country', which came to be the dominant outlook of the Soviet bureaucracy, that grew out of the isolation and degeneration of the young workers state.

Alan Woods, editor of www.marxist.com and author of many books including Reason in Revolt and The Venezuelan Revolution: A Marxist Perspective, talks to the Oxford Brookes Socialist Society on the relevance of socialism in the 21st century.

The ideas of the International Marxist Tendency are very clear. We stand for the genuine ideas of Marxism and base ourselves on the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. You may agree or disagree with these ideas. Occasionally however, we encounter opponents who are prepared to go to incredible lengths to distort and falsify what we stand for. Just such a case came up earlier this year when the French language journal, La Vérité, published by the Lambertist group launched a vicious and dishonest attack on our positions. Here we explain what we really stand for.

Ted Grant remembers the day the news of Trotsky's murder came over the radio as he lay in bed in hospital. First published in Militant 17 August 1990.

An article by Israel Shamir, La saga de Woods, appeared on October 15, on the Spanish language web site Rebelión. Shamir brings out all his Stalinist venom against genuine Marxism – i.e. Trotskyism – but he also adds some of his own novel ideas. Alan Woods, basing himself on the classical writings of Marx, Engels and in particular Lenin, shows how Stalinism and Marxism are opposites.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the brutal assassination of Leon Trotsky by a Stalinist agent. We commemorate this event by publishing an article by his grandson, Esteban Volkov, which was a preface to the recent reissuing of Trotsky’s My Life. It is a fitting tribute to this great revolutionary who remains an inspiration to all those fighting for the emancipation of the proletariat.

In the three articles that Luis Oviedo has written in answer to my article published on January 7 (Marxism versus Sectarianism - Reply to Luis Oviedo) a number of very important issues are raised. These questions deserve the most careful consideration by Marxists in Britain, Argentina and internationally. However, in order to clarify the issues raised and to educate the cadres (which ought to be the aim of every polemic) it is necessary to avoid heated language, distortions and personal attacks that only serve to divert attention away from the political questions. Such an approach will only confuse matters

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My attention was recently drawn to an article signed by Luis Oviedo, entitled The Counterrevolutionary Position of Socialist Appeal(in Prensa Obrera nº 826).Having read the article, I could not decide whether it was the product of bad faith or simple ignorance. Certainly, the method used is contrary to every basic principle of Marxism and above all Trotskyism, which comrade Oviedo and the Partido Obrero (PO) claim to defend.

One hundred and twenty years ago - on March 14 1883 to be precise - Karl Marx, one of the greatest figures in human history, died. Despite over a century of attacks, distortions and attempts to belittle Marx's contribution, no-one can doubt that he dramatically altered the course of human history.

Marxists study history not for the smugness of 20/20 hindsight, but in order to learn its lessons. Trotsky's insistent call for a united front of workers' organisations to defeat fascism in Germany went tragically unheeded.

This article is reprinted from the International Socialist of May-June 1953, and it defends the Marxist view on the question of morality. At that time, with the post-war boom beginning to accelerate, the capitalist class and their ideological representatives in the labour movement discovered a new-found confidence in their system. Right-wingers, writing for example in the New Fabian Essays, sought to demonstrate that the ideas of 'class struggle' and 'capitalist crisis' were no longer applicable to the modern 'welfareist' state.

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