Marxists

Lukács: strange contradictions

The first translation from German of any of Lukács's History and Class Consciousness appeared in the heterodox Trotskyist journal The New International, in the summer 1957 issue. Michael Harrington translated What is Orthodox Marxism?, the first essay in the book, with the introduction reprinted here. George Lukács, the author of What is Orthodox Marxism, is one of the strangest figures of twentieth century socialism. For he is simultaneously one of the few really creative Marxist minds of his time and a man who has betrayed the ideals of the revolution to the Stalinist regime. The many...

The life and work of Georg Lukács

Georg Lukács (pictured above in 1919) was one of the best-known Marxist writers of the 20th century. He joined the Hungarian Communist Party in December 1918 and was a People's Commissar in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of March-July 1919. After fleeing to Vienna, he published History and Class Consciousness (in 1923, but collecting texts written since 1919). He lived in the USSR between 1929 and 1945. He was a minister in the reforming Nagy government in Hungary in 1956, survived the Russian invasion and the repression, and died in 1971. John Cunningham talked with Martin Thomas...

Losing the thread: ISO’s collapse

The veteran Marxist writer Paul Le Blanc has written the most substantial and critical account yet of the collapse of the USA’s International Socialist Organization, of which Le Blanc was himself a member, though not a central one. The ISO was the most active revolutionary socialist organisation in the USA, with 800 or 900 members. At its convention in late February 2019, opposition groups displaced its longstanding leaders with a platform promising wider activism. Le Blanc (who was outside the USA at the time) reports “at the convention’s conclusion there seemed among people I trust...

Richard Wright and Stalinism

Richard Wright, the American author of the novels Native Son and Black Boy, was born on a plantation in Roxie, near Natchez, Mississippi in 1908. He died of a heart attack in Paris, in 1960, aged 52. For a while, especially in the early 1940s, he was an enormously prominent and important leftwing author. Native Son was a ground-breaking book with a young Black hoodlum, Bigger Thomas, as its anti-hero. It was criticised by some activists at the time for not presenting a positive view of Black people. Indeed, Native Son is a gruelling read. Wright wanted to present Thomas, who murders two women...

The “Green New Deal”

Marxist ecologist John Bellamy Foster has commented on the “Green New Deal” proposed notably by the new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. I am impressed by some aspects of it. She calls for mass mobilisation, which is indeed necessary. She also calls for innovative forms of financing, such as setting up a network of public banks to finance it directly, modelled after the New Deal, and through much higher marginal tax brackets on the rich and corporations, going back to what we once had in the United States. The revenues could be used to finance a massive shift toward solar and wind...

Dry January not so good

I’m sympathetic to some of the points made by Martin Thomas in “Health-anuary” (Solidarity 494) but I think the article attempts to draw conclusions with little evidence. I took part in Dry January. I’m pleased I did. But for improving health, a general reduction in drinking is more likely required rather than a month of abstinence. I am not a problem drinker, but like many British people an occasional binge drinker. The facts for problem drinking are stark; 30% of all alcohol is consumed by just 4.4% of the population. Dry January is neither desirable for nor targeted at those people, who are...

Crisis and Sequels out in paperback

Martin Thomas outlines the guide he followed in compiling Crisis and Sequels, a book on the 2007-8 crash and its aftermath now out in paperback edition. “Analysis must proceed not from a blurred outline of a ‘typical’ capitalist economy, but from the complex reality of a world economy with its own structure and within it national economies substantially different in pattern both from the global structure and from each other”. Crisis and Sequels is built round 32 interviews with or contributions by 15 economists, organised into five chronological sections as the 2007­8 crash and its sequels...

Rosa Luxemburg and imperialism

Rosa Luxemburg considered her most important contribution to be her book, The Accumulation of Capital, published in 1913. The legacy of the Polish­-German revolutionary socialist leader who was murdered by a right­-wing militia operating under the aegis of a Social­ Democratic government just over 100 years ago has come down to us through a haze of sentimental misrepresentation and selective republishing, but now can and should be reconsidered. For decades the two most widely ­available texts from Luxemburg were critical notes on the Bolshevik revolution, drafted in jail in 1918, and not...

Postone, capitalism, and the working class

Moishe Postone, a Marxist academic at the University of Chicago who died in 2018, skewered antisemitism as an addled, "pseudo-emancipatory" form of anticapitalism, which blames the evils on capitalism not on its structures but on shadowy plots by "the Jews". Socialists, he argued, must instead seek to spread understanding of capitalism's complex and impersonal structures of social domination. Capitalist exploitation and oppression is a matter of social structures. It is not a conspiracy by secret cabals of evil people. Capitalists are generally, to be sure, personally greedy and arrogant, but...

Corbynism, Marxism, and "orthodox Marxism"

Above: Moishe Postone, Robert Fine, Michael Heinrich Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton, authors of the book Corbynism: A Critical Approach, published in September 2018, talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity. A review of the book can be found here S: Tell us first how you came to be interested in this sort of thing, and writing this sort of book. P: I′ve always been politically active, but not particularly consistently. I first became politically aware in opposition to the Iraq war when I was 15. My involvement with the Labour Party started in 2008 in one of Labour's only traditional strongholds...

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