Marxism & the USA

marxismandtheusa500There exists a kind of senseless anti-Americanism in some left circles. Marxists are internationalists and do not take up a negative stance in relation to the people of any country. We stand for the unity of all working people against oppression and exploitation. What we oppose is not Americans, but American capitalism and American imperialism.

The American people and above all the American working class have a great revolutionary tradition. On the basis of great historical events they are destined to rediscover these traditions and to stand once more in the front line of the world revolution, as they did in 1776 and 1860. The future of the entire world depends ultimately on this perspective. And although today it may seem very far off, it is not so incredible as one might think. Let us recall that before 1917 tsarist Russia was the bastion of world reaction, as the U.S.A. is today. Many people were convinced that the idea of socialist revolution in Russia was a crazy delusion on the part of Lenin and Trotsky. Yes, they were completely convinced, and completely wrong.

– From Introduction to Marxism and the USA

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, editor ofIn Defence of Marxism, replies to this document’s slanders, and investigates why socialist ideas are gaining ground in the United States of America.

Tom Trottier examines the rise and fall of the Labor Party, which was founded by an alliance of unionists in 1996 and won some support, but rapidly declined in the late-90s and early-2000s. Tom explains why the Labor Party failed and why Marxists must draw lessons from the past to start laying the foundations and framework for a future mass, working-class, socialist party in the United States.

The following interview, conducted in October 2012 by journalist Arash Azizi, was originally published in the Farsi-language journal Mehrnameh, the leading journal of humanities in Iran. In it, John Peterson gives a basic overview of the history of political parties and class interests in the United States, which shows that the U.S. political spectrum has not always been "the same," and that things can and do change, often dramatically.

In the recent period, the so-called Tea Party movement has laid claim to the legacy of the American Revolution. With their tri-corner hats and abstract appeals to patriotism and freedom, they have seized headlines, aided by generous coverage by the corporate media. This has led to tremendous confusion when it comes to the real class roots of this world-shaking event. Unfortunately, for many Americans, the Revolution has been reduced to a summer barbecue on the 4th of July, flag-waving,

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The Occupy movement has many people looking to past movements to see what we can learn from them that can help us in today’s struggles.  The period of the 1960s and early 1970s was one of upheaval around the world: May 1968, the Tet Offensive, the revolution in Pakistan, etc. The USA was not exempt from these powerful social movements. In the 1950s, the movement to end Jim Crow segregation helped to spur on movements against the U.S. imperialist war on Vietnam, large strike movements

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In January of 1917, a meeting was held in New York City to begin organizing the left-wing of the Socialist Party of America. They wanted to publish a regular Marxist paper, which would be a tool to win over the rank and file of the SP to a Marxist program. There were approximately 20 people at this meeting, one of whom was Leon Trotsky. Trotsky was new to New York and the USA. Soon after the meeting, he would leave the U.S. and go back to Russia and play the role of co-leader of the first

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As part of our ongoing series on the early Left in the United States, we turn next to the Socialist Labor Party and its central figure, Daniel De Leon. Given the continued influence of De Leon and his ideas on some people on the Left, our aim is to draw a balanced appraisal. With the benefit of hindsight, we examine the rise and fall of the SLP as a relevant force in the socialist and workers' movement in order to draw the lessons for today.

The second edition of Marxism and the U.S.A. is now available from Wellred Books. The new edition is greatly expanded, including all new appendices and this new introduction by John Peterson, National Secretary of the Workers International League.

The American Revolution shook up the entire world. The thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America, fought and won against the most powerful imperial power on the planet. In the years following the American victory over the British, the hopes of the masses were betrayed. As a result, there were many popular movements and uprisings. But none had as big an impact on the psychology of the ruling class and the future structure of the U.S. government as Shays’

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In this article, the conditions for socialist revolution to develop are analyzed. The experiences of the Socialist Party of America and other left groups are analyzed as well, for those that are interested in building a Marxist leadership need to learn from past left and labor movements to avoid making the same mistakes past socialists have made.

After a bitter coal yard workers’ strike and organizing campaign in early 1934, Teamsters Local 574 won the right to represent thousands of workers in Minneapolis. But by May, a second strike became necessary, after the trucking and warehouse bosses refused to recognize the local.

Every year, workers across the United States celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September. It is seen as a marker of the end of Summer, the start of football season, and the return to school for millions of students. But what is the origin of this holiday? What is its relation to the internationally celebrated Labor Day on May 1st?

The 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, led by the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party), was a decisive moment in the US labor and socialist movements. During the years preceding the strike, few would have expected the upsurge that took place in 1934.

For decades, the mantra “Capitalism = good” and “Socialism = bad” was driven into our heads. But even the most sophisticated apparatus for influencing public opinion – the mainstream media – cannot mold opinion as powerfully as experience itself. From the dizzying heights of the boom to the economic implosion of the last 10 months, dramatic events are shaking up and transforming the way Americans look at the world around them.

 

The war in Vietnam, which completely transformed the situation in the U.S.A., did not begin in a planned way. The U.S.A. was sucked into it almost by accident. It began with a covert operation, the sending of officers and “advisers” to prop up an unpopular and corrupt government against its own people. This is the usual style of U.S. imperialism! The regime of Ngo Dinh Diem was guilty of vicious repression in South Vietnam. Buddhist monks burned themselves alive in protest.

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In the U.S., Labor Day is officially celebrated in September, and has all but lost its original political and class character. But the real origins of May Day can be traced right to the United States and the bitter struggles of working men and women for better wages, rights, conditions, and the eight-hour day.

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We wish all our readers a red May Day! Here we briefly look at the historical origins of this day of struggle. 

On February 9, 1950 Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin claimed that there were no fewer than two hundred Communists in the State Department. This outrageous allegation unleashed a witch-hunt against everyone who was even slightly "tainted" with left wing, progressive or even vaguely democratic opinions in public life. Originally published in 2005 in the book Marxism and the USA, published by and

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The end of the 19th century saw the birth of imperialism. Germany, France, Britain and Belgium struggled to gain possession of markets, territory, raw materials and spheres of influence. Originally published in the book Marxism and the USA, published by and available from Wellred.

This was the period of the most violent labor conflicts in the history of the United States. The first of these occurred with the Great Rail Strike of 1877, when rail workers across the nation went out on strike in response to a 10-percent pay cut. Originally published in 2005 in the book Marxism and the USA, published by and available from

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Two years ago Alan Woods wrote a book, "Marxism and the USA", in which he applied the Marxist method to the history of the United States, looking at the events that shaped modern America from a class point of view. Here we publish the Introduction to the book. The book will be serialised over the coming period. The first two parts are The U.S.A. and the World and

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Marxism and the USA is an updated and greatly expanded version of an essay on this question originally written in 2002. We produce here Alan Woods’ introduction to give our readers an idea of what the book is about.

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Many skeptics say that a socialist society could never exist in America. They say that Americans are greedy and unwilling to join together in common struggle. But US labour history is rich with examples of the heroism of the working class in their struggle for a better world. By Josh Shelton, from the US Socialist Appeal

In 1947 the US "liberal" Henry Wallace visited Britain to present his views against the policies of Truman, while at the same time defending the "progressive" character of Roosevelt's policies. Ted Grant argued that Wallace had nothing to offer the workers but empty words while glossing over the same imperialist policies.