Marxist Theory

ATOMIC ENERGY: for Barbarism or Socialism? A Socialist Manifesto From the Dawn of the Atomic Age

"The impact of the bomb was so terrific that prac-
tically all living things, human and animal, were liter-
ally seared to death by the tremendous heat and pres-
sure engendered by the blast."

A manifesto on Socialism and nuclear age published in Labor Action, New York, at the end of 1945.

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Rebel Cities

After flirting with the Occupy movement in London, I found myself swerving into the Marxist school of thought.

Harvey’s book appealed because it examines the nature of the urban environment in relation to capital circulation processes and class struggle via the Marxist method, a twinning that neatly merges the latest two integers in my own political development.

A review of Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey (Verso Books, April 2012)

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The German workers' revolution of 1918/19 and why it was defeated

In January 1919 Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the two most prominent leaders of the German revolutionary movement, were savagely murdered in Berlin. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were victims of a wave of terror unleashed by the leaders of German Social Democracy in order to crush working-class revolution.

In January 1919 Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the two most prominent leaders of the German revolutionary movement, were savagely murdered in Berlin.

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Remaking Socialism: From Socialism's Collapse in 1914 to the Foundation of the Communist International in March 1919

THE ECLIPSE OF THE INTERNATIONAL

This account of socialism's eclipse and re-emergence is by Boris Souvarine, a participant in these events and a founder and leader of the French Communist Party.

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Benn, the Left and the Serb-Kosova Conflict, 1999

Record of a reconstructed discussion

Three people aroud a table in a back-street pub between Kings Cross and Euston stations. They have come from the Friends Meeting House on Euston Road, where Tony Benn MP, the one-time bishop Bruce Kent, the journalist Paul Foot and others have spoken against NATO's bombing of Serbia. The three are old college friends who have not seen each other in a long while...

TONY: That was a hell of a meeting, eh? It's many years since we've had an overflow meeting like that! Footsie and Bruce Kent were in great form. And Benn is fantastic!

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The SWP and the Iran-Iraq war: the sudden shift to super-anti-imperialism

In 1988 the SWP suddenly became very 'anti-imperialist'. It became a loud cheerleader for what it sees as progressive or revolutionary nationalisms.

It still talks of socialism and class struggle, but now these are proposed as merely the best means to secure the greater nationalist end. It fiercely supports Iraq in the Gulf War. It insists fanatically that it is not even worth thinking about an appeal to the Israeli working class, that Israel must be destroyed, and that a 'two-state' solution in Palestine is worthless even as an interim measure.

How the SWP shifted drastically on "anti-imperialism" in 1987-8.

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The Origins and Rise of the SWP

How did the Trotskyist left in Britain come to be scattered and divided into hostile and competing groups? At the root the divisions are a product of the repeated defeats and the continuing marginalisation of revolutionary socialism.

Abridged introduction to a pamphlet, "A tragedy of the left", published in December 1991 to mark the 20th anniversary of the separation of what is now called AWL and the SWP, and now out of print.

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Reclaiming Trotskyist history: introduction to Shachtman's Where is the petty-bourgeois opposition?

George Santanyana’s aphorism, “Those who do not learn from history are likely to repeat it”, is not less true for having become a cliché. And those who do not know their own history cannot learn from it.

Take the history of the Trotskyist movement — that is, of organised revolutionary Marxism for most of the 20th century. To an enormous extent the received history of that movement is not “history” but the all-too-often mendacious, and always tendentious, folklore generated by competing sects over many decades.

The history of the Trotskyist movement is to an enormous extent not “history” but all-too-often mendacious, tendentious folklore generated by competing sects over many decades.

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1940: Max Shachtman's reply to Leon Trotsky - A “petty bourgeois” opposition?

Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? A Repeated Challenge Remains Unanswered.


Where Is the Petty Bourgeois Opposition? By the SWP Political Committee minority, March 1940.

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The "Bad King Cliff" account of what went wrong in IS

In discussing the history of the SWP and IS — Jim Higgins' book is an example of this — there is a danger of scapegoating Cliff.

In discussing the history of IS — Jim Higgins’ book is an example of it — there is a danger of scapegoating Cliff.

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Cliff's state capitalism in perspective

"I will argue that, on the level of Marxist theory, Cliff's position is an inorganic hybrid of post-Trotsky 'degenerated workers' state' theory and 'bureaucratic collectivism', and its implications and perspectives have most of the faults of post-Trotsky degenerated workers' state theory."

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A balance sheet on Hugo Chávez

The death of Hugo Chávez earlier this year provides the opportunity for a balance sheet on his rule and what it signified for socialists. Workers’ Liberty contends that Chávez was a “Bonapartist” politician who remained to his death within the bounds of capitalism, whatever his rhetoric about socialism and “Bolivarian revolution”. Pablo Velasco contributes the first of a serious of four articles.

The death of Hugo Chávez earlier this year provides the opportunity for a balance sheet on his rule and what it signified for socialists.

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The seven ages of the Socialist Workers Party (UK) and its predecessors, Socialist Review and IS

Bring back the pamphlet!

Material conditions for socialist education and self-education are better than they’ve ever been.

Much socialist literature which previously you could read only if you could get into a good library is now freely available on the web. Vastly more has been translated.

Thanks to second-hand book sales moving onto the web, printed books which you’d previously find only by searching second-hand shops are now also easily available.

It’s a lot easier to be a well-read socialist now than it used to be.

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Eric Hobsbawm on the taming of parliamentary democracy [1951]

An Eric Hobsbawm article from 1951 discussing how the ruling class tamed democracy.

In 1951 Eric Hobsbawm, who died on 1 October 2012 full of fame and honours, wrote an article in which, for once, the imperatives of his Stalinist politics worked to mobilise his great talents as a historian in favour of enlightenment in current politics.

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Zola's vision of socialism

Au Bonheur des Dames is one of Zola's most interesting novels.

The BBC are now showing a major adaptation of one of Emile Zola’s more neglected novels 'Au Bonheur des Dames' (sometimes translated as 'The Ladies Paradise'). This is a good excuse as any to look again at a great but overlooked work.

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The ISG and the "Marxist tradition"

An assessment of the politics of Scotland's International Socialist Group.

“We believe that the Marxist tradition is essential for anyone who believes we need radical social change and will attempt to develop Marxist theory. We aim to produce a regular theoretical magazine to provide space for the development of Marxist theory. ... For the Marxist tradition!”

This was the ringing declaration issued by the 39 Scotland-based members of the Socialist Workers Party in April of last year when – for reasons yet to be fully explained – they quit their organisation and formed the International Socialist Group (Scotland).

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Assessing the global slump

There is no definitive Marxist assessment of the current economic crisis or of the period leading up to it, but there is a vibrant debate among Marxists trying to grapple with the underlying causes of the world we’re in. David McNally’s book “Global Slump” provides one of the most panoramic and provocative accounts with many insights. He argues that the crisis of 2008 represents the terminus of a quarter-century wave of economic growth – neoliberal expansion – and the transition to a protracted period of slump (2011 p.2). He defends three broad arguments:

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Greece and a workers' government

There are both timeless and concrete arguments for the workers’ government slogan (discussed in ‘Greece: a workers’ government?’ Solidarity 239).

The Communist International resolved at its Fourth Congress in 1922: “As a general propagandistic slogan, the workers’ government (or workers’ and peasants’ government) can be used almost everywhere.” As Trotsky said the reason for this, and for the slogan’s educative potential, is that it “opposes the working class as a whole politically to all other classes, i.e., to the groupings of the bourgeois political world.”

There are both timeless and concrete arguments for the workers’ government slogan in Greece.

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International Marx Congress (until 2nd Oct)

Date: 

30 September, 2004 - 11:00

Location: 

University of Paris X, Nanterre

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Thursday-Saturday 29 September to 2 October: International Marx Congress, at the University of Paris X, Nanterre. There is also an opening session on the evening of Wednesday 29th at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

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Start of 11-week course on "The Ideas of Leon Trotsky in Socialist Theory and Practice"

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28 September, 2004 - 19:30

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David Hume Tower, University of Edinburgh

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Tuesday 28 September. Start of 11-week course on "The Ideas of Leon Trotsky in Socialist Theory and Practice", 6.30 - 8.30 pm each Tuesday at Room 5.50, David Hume Tower, University of Edinburgh. Enrolment: £80 / £53 concessions, via Office of Lifelong Learning, 11 Buccleugh Place (0131 650 4400).

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Can we talk to the police?

In Solidarity 191 Sofie Buckland asked whether socialists should back police fighting cuts in their service, concluding we should not (http://alturl.com/nzcz8). A debate on this has developed on our website — extracts below.

Are the police, as the Socialist Party argues, just "workers in uniform" who socialists should back in fighting cuts in their service?

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Forum - March 1995

Robin Blick, author of The Seeds of Evil: Lenin and the origins of Bolshevik elitism, replies to Al Richardson's review of his book in Socialist Organiser no. 615, and Martin Thomas replies to Alan Johnson on the issue of Marxists, parliamentary democracy and workers' councils.

Click here to download article as pdf.

Click here to download pdf.

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D is for democracy

“Without democracy there can be no socialism and without a socialist society, there can be no real and complete democracy.” This simple idea is central to Marxism and inseparable from the work of revolutionary socialists. But it is by no means uncontroversial.

“Without democracy there can be no socialism and without a socialist society, there can be no real and complete democracy.” This simple idea is central to Marxism and inseparable from the work of revolutionary socialists. But it is by no means uncontroversial.

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