Philosophy

Marxism in the 1960's and 1970's

Jelle Versieren’s generous review of Antonio Gramsci: working-class revolutionary (Solidarity 311) offers a wealth of background information and context-setting.

In the 1960s, challenging the orthodoxies of the old Communist Parties, the Trotskyists, marginalised since the mid-1940s, initiated not only activism but also Marxist research.

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Bread and Roses

(In a parade of textile workers during the great strike at Lawrence, Mass in 1913, some young women carried a banner inscribed, "We want Bread, and Roses, too!")

As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun
discloses,

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Coffee table radicalism

It is difficult not to warm to a film that places a radical left wing philosopher into mock ups of various film sets to lecture on his theory of ideology. That is what film maker Sophie Fiennes has done with Slavoj Žižek.

A review of The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.

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A Consecration

Not of the princes and prelates with periwigged charioteers
Riding triumphantly laurelled to lap the fat of the years.
Rather the scorned—the rejected—the men hemmed in with the spears;

Others may sing of the wine and the wealth and the mirth, The portly presence of potentates goodly of girth; Mine be the dirt and the dross, the dust and scum of the earth!

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CONSECRATION

Not of the princes and prelates with periwigged charioteers
Riding triumphantly laurelled to lap the fat of the years.
Rather the scorned—the rejected—the men hemmed in with the spears;

Others may sing of the wine and the wealth and the mirth, The portly presence of potentates goodly of girth; Mine be the dirt and the dross, the dust and scum of the earth!

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"Philosophy" and Mr Slaughter: the dialectics of sectarianism

A critique of the "dialectics"-mongering of the Socialist Labour League/ Workers' Revolutionary Party, which until the early 1970s was the most visible and active would-be Trotskyist group in Britain.

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As we were saying: the trap of “left-wing” relativism

This article from Solidarity’s forerunner, Socialist Organiser (11 June 1991), criticises “political correctness”, focusing on art and culture, from the point of view of the Marxist left, (as opposed to right-wing prejudice). Jim Denham argues here in favour of free speech and objective standards in aesthetics, in a still-pertinent debate.


A number of colleges and universities in the US have begun adopting PC codes, supposedly intended to curb behaviour and/or language that might give offence to racial minorities, women, gays and lesbians.

Relativists are linked by a common philosophical approach, one that Marxists should fight tooth and nail.

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Liverpool AWL: Marxism and Religion

Date: 

16 December, 2010 - 19:30 to 21:00

Location: 

Training Room, Liverpool Guild of Students, 160 Mount Pleasant, L3 5TR

Description: 

Where does religion come from? Does it have a purpose and why would that matter to socialists?

Search 'ideas for freedom liverpool' for Facebook event.

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Should faith keep its fortresses?

While I am an atheist, I still respect people with faith (or superstition, as it is sometimes called). But should we respect faith itself?

Is there a real difference between faith and superstition, or are they just different words that people use for the same thing, depending on whether they want to refer to it warmly (faith) or coldly (superstition)?

Some people who are atheists themselves argue that faith should be respected as a valid way of knowing on questions which science cannot reach.

Does respecting people with faith mean we should respect faith itself?

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Varieties of dialectics

By Martin Thomas

In one of the crazy autobiographical fragments he wrote in his last years, the famous French Stalinist philosopher Louis Althusser claimed that his father, a bank manager, ran his branch on the following lines:

“It was his custom not to say anything, or to make absolutely unintelligible remarks. His subordinates dared not admit they had understood nothing, but went off and usually managed very well on their own, though they still wondered if they might not be mistaken and this kept them on their toes”.

Despite Marx’s loose use of the term “the dialectic”, his text makes clear that there is no such thing as “the” dialectic.

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What is Marxist dialectical thinking?

Vasilis Grollios contributes to the discussion opened by Dave Osler in Solidarity 219

The core of socialist-Marxist thinking is its methodology, dialectical materialism. But the term was not systematically analysed by Marx or Engels. One has to synthesise its meaning from thousands of pages of their collected works.

Dialectical materialism was not systematically analysed by Marx or Engels; one has to synthesise its meaning from their collected works.

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Can you have Marxism without dialectics?

By Bruce Robinson

Relatively little of Dave Osler’s column [Solidarity 219] suggesting that Marxists should abandon dialectics deals with the substance of the issue — what dialectics is and why it is wrong.

Marx’s commitment to dialectical thinking was not an aberration or something that can be detached from the rest of his ideas.

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Dialectics, rival to analysis?

By Dave Osler

A housewife knows that a certain amount of salt flavours soup agreeably, but that added salt makes the soup unpalatable. Consequently, an illiterate peasant woman guides herself in cooking soup by the Hegelian law of the transformation of quantity into quality.

That — believe it or not — is a verbatim quote from Leon Trotsky. Leaving aside the casual sexism implicit in such an analogy, it does not strike me as a particularly impressive defence of one of major postulates of Marxist philosophy.

Can the Marxist method sustain itself without dialectics?

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Are Marxists pro-liberty?

Normally I wouldn’t dream of grassing up the publishers of this newspaper to the Labour Party bureaucracy. But after nearly 20 years, even the dimmest witchhunter has probably by now twigged the subterfuge that saw evil clandestine Trot entrists the Socialist Organiser Alliance rebrand themselves as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

The name is that bit at odds from the usual unimaginative titles deployed by far-left outfits. What’s more, it has a subtly different political flavour.

Is is true to say that Marxists are fighters for liberty?

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Things must be studied in their movement

Author: 

Edward Conze

That everything should be studied in its development and changing forms is the demand of the second rule of scientific method. This is a simple consequence of the first law. For we cannot form an adequate picture of things as they are unless we take notice of their continual change and development. We have an intimate understanding of a house or a road when we know how it is built, of a tree or plant when we understand its growth, of the weather if we know how it was yesterday and how it will be tomorrow.

Part of a series on Marxist dialectics.

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Socialism and Religion: 25 Articles

Notes and talking points on Engels' "Ludwig Feuerbach"

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Engels wrote "Ludwig Feuerbach" in 1886. The circumstances were this. In Engels' and Marx's youth, "Hegelian views... most extensively penetrated the most diversified sciences and leavened even popular literature and the daily press..." in Germany.

A philosophical writer having such influence was not a routine thing in history. It had never happened before, has never happened since.

Notes and talking points on Engels' "Ludwig Feuerbach"

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Socialism, Feminism, Meaning and Understanding

A few weeks ago I was at a meeting in Leeds, entitled “Socialist Feminism and the Fight for equality”, publicising Feminist Fightback,. The meeting quickly became a debate on whether socialists need to be involved in the feminist movement, and whether they need to describe themselves as feminists. Comrades from Workers Liberty argued that yes, they do, and comrades from Workers Power argued that no, they didn’t.

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Political Islam, Christian Fundamentalism and the Left Today

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

In many countries, religion and disputes about, or expressed in terms of, religion have long been central to political life — in Christian Spain, Portugal, Ireland, or the USA; in Muslim Iran or Algeria; in Lebanon; in Israel-Palestine. Today, since Islamist terrorists attacked New York on 11 September 2001, religion, or concerns and interests expressed in religion, are at the centre of international politics to a degree without parallel for hundreds of years.

Since Islamist terrorists attacked New York on 11 September 2001, religion, or concerns and interests expressed in religion, are at the centre of international politics.

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Study course on Marxist philosophy

This coming Saturday (10 July) sees the start of a six-part summer course on Marxist philosophy. Classes take place in Hackney on Saturday afternoons. Full course details are below.


a 6-part course based on Marx's 'Theses on Feuerbach'

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The SWP, the Mainstream Left and Islamism

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

The Prophet and the demoralised opportunists

Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But, man is no abstract being squatting outside the world.

2002 analysis of liberal and SWP accommodation to Islamism in the anti-war movement

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