In defence of genuine 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

One of the many slanders hurled at the Bolsheviks is that they were bloodthirsty intriguers who got their way through violent means. This is a criticism shared both by the hypocritical bourgeois, and elements on the left. These pacifists say that we need peace, love and understanding to counter the brutal repression of capitalism, not violent revolution. But will the ruling class ever really relinquish power without a fight? What is the real Marxist attitude to violence and pacifism? This lecture from our 2020 Marxist University explains. 

In the current period, identity politics are in vogue. Along with the related trend of intersectionality, these ideas stress the importance of self-identification, personal experience, and the various layers of oppression people experience on racial, sexual, gender and other lines. What is the basis for identity politics? Why are they so popular with the youth in particular? And how do they square with the Marxist method of solidarity and class struggle? The following talk from last year's Marxist University deals with all these questions. 

Postmodernism is very popular on university campuses, and has also gained an echo in the workers’ movement. This school of thought denies the very idea of historical progress. It echoes Henry Ford, saying “history is just one damn thing after another”. Scientific truth is also sidelined in favour of a ‘subjective’ emphasis on language, experience and identity. Where do these ideas come from, and what does Marxism have to say about them? For more on this subject, check out our revamped In Defence of Marxism magazine, the latest issue of which is framed around

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In the following polemic, Jorge Martin (editor for marxist.com) responds to a pair of articles in a Cuban magazine, which mischaracterise the 27N movement as being left wing. In fact, this movement of artists and intellectuals for ‘democratic freedoms’ is liberal at best, and openly counterrevolutionary at worst. We also include a letter by Martin, addressed to the Comunistas blog, laying out our differences and calling for communists to stand unequivocally on the side of defending the Cuban Revolution and its conquests.

Capitalism has ceased to take humanity forward. It should long ago have been overthrown by the working class. Why hasn't it then? The key to answering that question lies in the role of leadership and of the revolutionary party. This article, based on a talk at the 2021 Montreal Marxist Winter School, looks at the different sides of this question and the rich lessons of the world working-class movement.

How do we acquire knowledge? Is there a real world beyond our senses? And if so, what is our relation to it? In this important theoretical contribution, marxist.com editor Alan Woods mounts a defence of materialism against idealism and the obscurantist, postmodernist subjectivism popular on university campuses today.

An article by our British comrades at Socialist Appeal (‘Storytelling, “culture wars” and the Left’) has drawn the ire of ‘left-wing’ journalist Paul Mason. He said that our “mouldering” organisation needs to abandon its outdated worldview. Alan Woods explains that the thin gruel of Mason’s post-modernism is no substitute for the science of Marxism.

David Harvey is a university professor and a geographer who describes himself as a Marxist. His series of video lectures on Capital have been viewed by hundreds of thousands as a new generation of young people became interested in Marxism in the wake of the 2008 crisis. For these reasons, his recent statement that he is against the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism has logically caused a stir.

In this article, Josh Holroyd discusses the so-called Tributary Mode of Production, which has gained traction in academic circles as an alleged ‘update’ to Marx’s conception of historical development. However, a close inspection of this theory, its method and origins reveals less a development of Marxism than a retreat from it, in the face of attacks from its reactionary opponents in the universities.

Opportunism and sectarianism are two sides of the same coin. Both must be combated if the program of revolutionary Marxism is to become a mass force by connecting with the aspirations and movement of the working class, as Socialist Revolution (the IMT in the USA) explains.

Liberal Professor Mr. Tugan-Baranovsky is on the warpath against socialism. This time he has approached the question, not from the political and economic angle, but from that of an abstract discussion on equality (perhaps the professor thought such an abstract discussion more suitable for the religious and philosophical gatherings, which he has addressed?).

The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), driven by Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of SPEW, the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see. Despite the stream of allegations coming from the Taaffe faction, and the rebuttals from the other side, the dispute in reality centres around prestige politics, a highly pernicious tendency that is invariably fatal in a revolutionary organisation.

The following statement by comrade John McInally is a personal account of the nature and reasons for the degeneration of the Socialist Party (SP) and Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). John was a member of the SP (and before that Militant) for more than 40 years, before he came into conflict with the leadership and was deemed to have "placed himself outside" of the organisation.

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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