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

This document, after a thorough discussion at all levels of the International Marxist Tendency over the past year, was approved unanimously by the IMT World Congress held at the end of July 2018 with the original title Marxist Theory and The Struggle Against Alien Class Ideas. Its aim is to draw a line between Marxism and a set of idealistic and postmodernist alien class ideas, which have affected for some time a layer of activists in academic circles and are also being used in a reactionary manner within the international workers' movement.

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left' leaders who are making a dash for the 'centre ground'.

To commemorate the anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg's murder in 1919, we republish the following introduction to a 2014 Mexican edition of her important work, Reform or Revolution. The legacy of this martyr for proletarian revolution endures through her ideas.

As millions in the US are looking for a way out of the impasse of the capitalist system, rooting ourselves in the sound foundations of Marxist theory has never been more important. Ten years ago, few Americans considered themselves socialists, and even fewer were open about it. But life teaches, and conditions determine consciousness. A decade of crisis, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and Trump’s election have led millions to look to socialism for a way out. The skyrocketing growth of Democratic Socialists of America after the 2016 elections is just one example of the dramatic changes in consciousness unfolding around us, a process that is still in its infancy.

In this video from the 2017 October Revolution festival, Daniel Morley (of the Socialist Appeal Editorial Board) discusses the theoretical differences between the philosophies of Marxism and postmodernism.

As expected, the centenary of the October 1917 Revolution has been greeted with a cacophony of distortions and slanders, especially against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Hundreds of newspaper articles, books as well as TV and radio documentaries, have been produced with this express purpose in mind, all of which talk of coups and the Bolsheviks being German agents.

In this talk at a 2017 day school on the Russian Revolution, Daniel Morley of the Socialist Appeal editorial board discusses the question of revolutionary insurrection, examining how Marxists approach the question of the seizure of power.

The crisis of capitalism has given rise to a mood of questioning and mass movements across the world. From the Spanish Indignados, to the Syntagma Square in Greece, and more recently the Nuit Debout in France, youth are starting to take action and challenge the capitalist system. As part of this general mood, recent years have also seen a number of spontaneous movements erupt against the multiple forms of oppression that different layers of the working class experience under capitalism.

In this talk from a recent Socialist Appeal day school, Alan Woods (editor of In Defence of Marxism) explores Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution and how it has been vindicated throughout history - both in the positive sense, by the Russian Revolution, and in the negative, by the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27.

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.

José Carlos Mariátegui was founder and general secretary of the Peruvian Socialist Party, set up in 1928, that later became the Communist Party. There is much mythology on the left about him. Here José Pereira puts the record straight explaining how this great Latin American Marxist, in spite of some errors, had reached the same general conclusions as Lenin and Trotsky on the fundamental questions facing the revolution in colonial countries. (First published in America Socialista, No. 6, August 2012)

At the recent Marxist summer school in London, Alan Woods - author of "Bolshevism: the road to revolution" - explores the ideas of Bolshevism and discusses the vital role of Lenin and Trotsky in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Fred Weston, Editor of the 'In Defence of Marxism' website, talks about Karl Marx and the attempt of building the first international Workers' Party. This talk about the early days of the ideas of scientific Socialism highlights invaluable lessons for revolutionaries today.