Fighting global capitalism

Forging global solidarity

Submitted by vickim on 30 May, 2014 - 1:42

LabourStart’s “Global Solidarity Conference” in Berlin on 23-25 May 2014 was its fourth major gathering and, with more than 300 participants, its biggest.

The conference was hosted by the German trade union ver.di, and comprised nearly three days of plenaries and workshops covered a range of themes.

A substantial chunk of the conference examined “Digital communications” — how unions can use electronic media to build themselves and their campaigns: LabourStart’s raison d’être!

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Revolutionary politics, imperialism, and anti-racism: a further reply in the "Marxism and religion" controversy

Submitted by AWL on 23 January, 2014 - 4:40

Marcus Halaby’s polemic against Workers’ Liberty’s politics on religion, Islamism, and anti-imperialism (“The AWL’s anti-anti-imperialist Islamophobia”) is worth reading because it illustrates some differences between the political method of Workers Power and ourselves in Workers’ Liberty.


Submitted by AWL on Thu, 23/01/2014 - 16:47

Marcus’s description of us as “neo-Shachtmanite” will probably be a little obscure to most readers. Quite what Marcus intends by adding the prefix “neo” we’re not sure, but the term “Shachtmanite” is worth explaining. Max Shachtman, a Polish-Jewish immigrant to America, was a founder and leader of the Trotskyist movement in the United States, part of the original group of Communist Party members expelled in 1929 for supporting Trotsky’s Left Opposition. He went on to be one of the foremost theorists and writers of what became the Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the British organisation of the same name).

In 1939, he began to develop differences with Trotsky, and his long-time political collaborator James P Cannon, over perspectives towards the Stalinist states. While Trotsky and Cannon argued that the USSR still represented some form of degenerated or “deformed” working-class rule, Shachtman eventually came to argue that the Stalinist bureaucracy had hardened into a new, distinct class, with its own imperialist ambitions, and that revolutionaries should not defend or side with Stalinism against capitalist imperialism.

Even before Shachtman and co's position had fully developed, a fight on the question split the SWP. “Between the slavery of a degenerated workers state and the slavery of capitalism, we prefer the slavery of a degenerated workers state”, argued Albert Goldman, then a supporter of Trotsky’s line. In 1940, Shachtman, along with others including Hal Draper and CLR James, founded the Workers Party, which sought to identify and support a “third camp” of independent working-class political organisation and perspective against both capitalism and Stalinism. The slogan “neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism” came to summarise the “third camp” policy throughout the Cold War.

A decade later, recoiling in horror from the growing totalitarianism of the Stalinist empire and despairing at the prospects for independent working-class power, Max Shachtman lurched rightward and eventually became, functionally at least, a Cold War liberal, preferring what he saw as the lesser evil of US imperialism to Stalinism, even in its barbaric expression in the Vietnam war.

But the tendency Shachtman founded continued, and a group of his co-thinkers (including Draper, Phyllis and Julius Jacobson, Herman Benson, and others) continued to develop “third camp” politics as a heteredox, broadly-libertarian Trotskyism which emphasised working-class independence and democracy. The third campists had an attitude on the “party question” which no doubt also offends Workers Power’s sensitivities, emphasising debate and dissent, and the rediscovery of the classical-Bolshevik view that internal disagreements should be argued through as publicly as possible, rather than compelling members to lie about their opinions in public.

That is indeed the tradition with which Workers’ Liberty identifies. Identifying with the political tradition Max Shachtman helped develop in no way compels us to apologise for choices he made later on. Against the Shachtman of the mid-1950s, we side with Draper, the Jacobsons, and others, who continued in revolutionary politics until the end of their lives.

But if Marcus intends “Shachtmanite” as a slur, his punch doesn’t land. Against those, like Workers Power, who would still prefer “the slavery of a degenerated workers state” to capitalism, and who would side with clerical-fascist reaction as long as it is incidentally opposed to (western) imperialism, and whose conception of political organisation insists that members lie about their views to retain the appearance of unanimity, we will wear the term “Shachtmanite” as a badge of honour.


Ira Berkovic

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Callinicos and the SWP: wrong on imperialism

Submitted by PaulHampton on Sun, 29/12/2013 - 11:57

At the Second Congress of the Communist International, in the debate on the national and colonial question, just after his book Imperialism had been translated into German and French, Lenin warned delegates they should “establish concrete facts and to proceed from concrete realities, not abstract postulates”.

Lenin’s laboratory: A review of Day and Gaido, Discovering Imperialism

Submitted by PaulHampton on Sun, 29/12/2013 - 11:53

“It is the same with the policy of Social Democracy as with any other: if you do not move forwards, you go backwards. Whoever closes his eyes out of a (not necessarily conscious) fear of the consequences of stating what is, has not only failed to fulfil his Social-Democratic duty to say what is but will also be forced to say what in reality does not exist, to spread illusions. Any misunderstanding of reality leads to confusion.”
Karl Radek, Ways and Means in the Struggle against Imperialism (14 September 1912). D&G 2012: 615


The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin

Submitted by PaulHampton on Sun, 29/12/2013 - 11:49
world capitalism

The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin is one of the best Marxist analyses of the modern epoch published in a long time. The book (Panitch and Gindin 2012: vii) is devoted to understanding “how it came to be that the American state developed the interest and capacity to superintend the making of global capitalism”.

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

Submitted by PaulHampton on Mon, 11/03/2013 - 21:08

Michael Heinrich’s book, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, (Monthly Review Press 2012) is a lucid and refreshing theoretical interpretation of Marxist political economy.

Apparently, it has gone through nine editions in Germany and is used widely in German universities. Heinrich takes inspiration from the “neue Marx Lektüre” (new Marx reading) of Capital. The result is one of best introductions to Capital for the new reader, but also many sophisticated clarifications for those who who’ve already read some Marx.

Horsemeat smoke screen

Submitted by AWL on 19 February, 2013 - 1:11

The claim and counter claim as to who is to blame for the “horse meat scandal” is a smokescreen. The big retailers, the multi-nationals, the international agri-businesses all know they are to blame! They are trying desperately to focus attention on “not so bad” horse meat “incidents” because to divert away from the real issues.

The real problem is unregulated (or at least badly and mis-regulated) food additives and processing — things which are only needed because of an ever-increasing complex market place, one which is geared to the companies' need for short term profit.

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Assessing the global slump

Submitted by PaulHampton on Mon, 30/04/2012 - 19:36

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:

Occupy the Democratic Party? No way!

Submitted by AWL on 22 November, 2011 - 3:03

Occupy the Democratic Party? No Way!
Dan La Botz, November 22, 2011


Submitted by edwardm on Sat, 03/12/2011 - 00:16

Can be found here.

Submitted by AWL on Tue, 06/12/2011 - 15:13

This time from Don Smith, "Democracy for America (DFA) organiser, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer"

find it on the peoples activist network blog here

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