Battle of Ideas

What do we mean when we talk about socialism?

Author: 

Editorial

“Socialism is the answer” to the crises and crying injustices, the inequalities and absurdities, of capitalism. But what is it, this socialism?

Solidarity is both our great organising weapon now, and the simple definition of what will be the core of a humane, working-class-run, society.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

"Educate, agitate and organise to change the world"

Author: 

Beth Redmond

This is a speech by Workers' Liberty member Beth Redmond, who has been centrally involved in the recent protests for free education (see her interview in the Guardian), for the 6 December student demonstration in Brighton.

A speech for a recent student free education demo by Workers' Liberty activist Beth Redmond.

Trade Unions: 

How the Capitalist System Operates

Author: 

Max Shachtman

The foundations of capitalist society need close examination, so that we may see more clearly how this social system functions and in what direction it is moving.

The foundations of capitalist society need close examination, so that we may see more clearly how this social system functions and in what direction it is moving.

Marxist Theory and History: 

A political primer by an American coalminer (1941)

Author: 

STANLEY OZIENGIELEWSKI (Unemployed Pennsylvania Coal Miner)
This splendid summary of his political beliefs was written by a Pennsylvanian coal miner.

Q. What is Americanism?

A. To different people it means different things; to Congressman Dies,*
bankers, manufacturers, land-owners, merchants, all sorts of exploiters, layers, politicians and flim-flam artists it means prosperity, life of pleasure and high culture; to the labourer it means bleeding, sweating, and being killed on the job and always in need of the essentials of life at home, and when out of a Job it means going fhungry, naked, with no roof over his head and rotting alive without medical assistance.

Q What is Democracy? .

Rosa Luxemburg describes the First World War

Author: 

Rosa Luxemburg

Into the disillusioned atmosphere of pale daylight there rings a different chorus; the hoarse croak of the hawks and hyenas of the battlefield.

Ten thousand tents, guaranteed according to specifications, 100,000 kilos of bacon, cocoa powder, coffee substitute, cash on immediate delivery. Shrapnel, drills, ammunition bags, marriage bureaus for war widows, leather belts, war orders - only serious propositions considered.

Rosa Luxemburg describes the political and social contradictions in the First World War.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

CL R James on Leon Trotsky

Author: 

CLR JAMES
CLR James, one of those who had fought Trotsky and split with him over "Defence of the USSR", pays tribute to Leon Trotsky after his assassination.

CLR James, one of those who had fought Trotsky and split with him over "Defence of the USSR", pays tribute to Leon Trotsky after his assassination.


“... mankind is shorter by a head, and the greatest head of our time at that ... Well, we must see it through. What else are we here for?”

— Engels to Sorge on the death of Marx

To a Foil’d European Revolutionaire

Author: 

Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
The great American poet expresses the spirit of revolt, of dauntless courage in temporary defeat

Courage yet! my brother or my sister!
Keep on! Liberty is to be subserv'd, whatever occurs;
That is nothing that is quelled by one or two failures, or any number of failures.
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any unfaithfuless.
Or the show of the tushes of power—soldiers, cannon penal statutes.

Marcus Garvey (1887--1940)

Author: 

CLR JAMES
Garvey landed in America some time during the First World War war and agitated for his organization, the UNIA, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. He had a fantastic program of Back to Africa. But it is not for his ideas that Garvey is important.

Articles in every newspaper and editorials on Garvey have borne witness to the great impression which this extraordinary man made on American life in less than ten years stay in this country. The revolutionary movement is woodenly obtuse to the immense significance of his career. Thereby it shows itself still dominated by the powerful prejudice which belittles or ignores all action and achievements by Negroes. Garvey landed in America some time during the war and agitated for his organization, the UNIA, the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

A Decade of Independent Socialism: The IS Story 1940-1950

Author: 

Albert Glotzer (Secretary of the Independent Socialist League)

The Independent Socialist League (originally formed as the Workers Party) is now celebrating its tenth anniversary, having been formed in April of 1940, following its split with the Socialist Workers Party.

A reflection on the Third Camp Trotskyists first ten years of existence, ten years after they split from the American SWP in 1940.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Our Trotsky (1940)

Author: 

Albert Glotzer
Speech by Albert Glotzer, representing the "Heterodox" Trotskyists of Max Shachtman's Workers Party at a memorial meeting in New York organised by James P. Cannon's "Orthodox" Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in 1940.

The bloodstained assassin of the Kremlin and his jackal hordes of the GPU struck down our Leon Trotsky. By that murderous act they have wounded us in our hearts and in our minds. The loss of L.D. has shorn us of our friend, our comrade, our leader.

De Leon: a revolutionary pioneer

Author: 

Michéal MacEoin

Daniel De Leon (1852-1914) was a pioneer of the American socialist movement, educating a generation in the basics of class-struggle revolutionary politics.

Born in the Dutch colony of Curacao, off the coast of Venezuela, on 14 December 1852, he was educated in law in Germany and the Netherlands. He moved to the United States in 1874, finding work as a lecturer.

Daniel De Leon (1852-1914) was a pioneer of the American socialist movement, educating a generation in the basics of class-struggle revolutionary politics.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

A Workers’ Government and Socialism (1946)

Author: 

Max Shachtman
The first step that a genuine Workers’ Government would take would be directed toward assuring continuous production so as to satisfy the needs of the people.

SOCIALISM, based upon the planned organization of production for use by means of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, is the abolition of all classes and class differences.

“As an ideal, it would be a good thing to have socialism; but it is only an ideal which cannot be realized in practice.” This is said by many people who have a poor understanding not only of socialism but of capitalism as well. Let us see. Is socialism merely a noble ideal, or is it more than that – a practical possibility and urgent necessity?

The PKK and Rojava

Author: 

Simon Nelson

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the movements it leads are the main forces resisting ISIS in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). What is the PKK?

The PKK was founded in 1977 by a small group of students who had previously been involved in the banned Dev-Genç (Revolutionary Youth) organisation, one of several revolutionary organisations that formed in Turkey in the 1960s.

The "Kurdistan Workers' Party" (PKK) and the movements it leads are the main forces resisting ISIS on the ground in Syria. What is the PKK?

Publications: 

Around the world: 

"Support the Kurds, expose imperialism": an interview with revolutionary socialists in Turkey

Workers' Liberty has links with the Turkish organisation Marksist Tutum (English language site here, main Turkish site here). We interviewed them about the current conflicts in the Middle East.

What is your assessment of the Turkish government's policy with regards to ISIS?

An interview with Marksist Tutum about Turkey, the Kurds, ISIS and the US.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

The gist of the 1969 “Troops Out” dispute in the International Socialists

“Tactics contradict principles” — IS/SWP founder Tony Cliff (quoted by Ian Birchall, International Socialism no.127)

In August 1969, IS/SWP suddenly switched from raucous agitation for “British troops out” of Northern Ireland (on the spurious grounds that all the troops would ever do is back up the Orange sectarian regime) to de facto support for the troops as providing a “breathing space”.

The Trotskyist Tendency, forerunner of Workers’ Liberty, had criticised the earlier shallow “Troops Out” agitation, and now also criticised the de facto support for the troops.

In August 1969, IS/SWP suddenly switched from raucous agitation for “British troops out” of Northern Ireland (on the spurious grounds that all the troops would ever do is back up the Orange sectarian regime) to de facto support for the troops as providing a “breathing space”.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Why did the Trotskyists define "the war against Hitler" as an Imperialist war? (1942)

Author: 

Stanley Plastrik (aka Sherman Stanley, Henry Judd)
Why The Workers Party says USA is Imperialist in World War 2 *

The first anniversary of Pearl Harbor draws near and we are about to be showered with a deluge of propaganda reminding us of the treacherous attack made upon the Hawaiian naval base and the fact that an unwilling American government was, as a result, forced into the World War. This is a good time to discuss a term very often used in Labor Action; the term IMPERIALISM. Often we are asked by new readers of our paper, “You keep saying that this is an imperialist war; that every country (including America) is in it for imperialist purposes. Just what do you mean by that, EXACTLY?”
 

Irish Workers and the First World War

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

“The trenches in France are healthier than the slums of Dublin”!
-British army recruiting poster,1916

The big, framed, multi-coloured certificate on our wall in Ennis, in the West of Ireland, puzzled me for a long time when I was very small.

The First World War and the Irish workers who enlisted to fight in it.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Pages