Marxist theory

The final aim is nothing: The politics of revisionism and anti-revisionism

 

 

Chinese communist propaganda poster from the sixties: 'Defeat American Imperialism, defeat Soviet Revisionism'

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

I. Introduction

 

May 2, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Revisionism, like the terms “Marxism-Leninism” or “fascism” is arguably one of the most widely used and abused terms on the revolutionary left.

The heroic deed: myth and revolution

 

 

Che Guevara

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

April 21, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission -- According to legend, the last words of Che Guevara before his execution were “I know you've come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man.” What Che meant here was that the cause of revolution would live on despite his death. Whether or not the myth is true, the meaning behind it has inspired revolutionaries throughout the world. In certain ways, the myth surrounding Che Guevara has been just as important as the truth. In fact, myths provide a crucial underpinning to how ideology and society is able to function. Myths play a major role not only in society, but in radical political movements, as was recognized by the French syndicalist Georges Sorel and the Peruvian communist Jose Carlos Mariategui. And despite the scientific pretensions of much of the left, myths also supply inspiration, passion and faith to militants in the course of struggle.

 

On the “Philosophy” of “Dialectical Materialism”

 

 

Lenin was completely wrong when he stated in his classic work, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, that 'All these people could not have been ignorant of the fact that Marx and Engels scores of times termed their philosophical views dialectical materialism.'

 

By Jason Devine

 

April 20, 2016 -- Submitted by the author to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has and continues to be argued that Marxism has a philosophy and that such philosophy is termed dialectical materialism. It is further argued that historical materialism is the result of the application of dialectical materialism “to the study of human society.” To put it into very simple terms, these formulations take the form of a basic math equation:

 

Dialectical Materialism + Social Reality = Historical Materialism

 

However, no matter how it is stated, it is not so. To be more precise, while we can make a theoretical distinction between what we call dialectical materialism and historical materialism, they are in fact two sides of the same coin; or rather one and the same thing.

 

The Left Hook: The Marxism of Sidney Hook

 

Doug Enaa Greene speaking at the Center for Marxist Education, in Cambridge, MA, on Sidney Hook as a Marxist thinker.

 

By Doug Enaa Greene, published on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

 

To my friend Amy.

 

I. Introduction

 



When the politics of Sidney Hook, a public intellectual and philosopher, are remembered today, they are generally associated with a right-wing variant of social democracy which was compatible with both neoconservatism and McCarthyism. For example, in 1953, Hook infamously wrote Heresy, Yes-- Conspiracy, No which justified the witch-hunts of the Red Scare and the purging of communists from academia reasoning that Leninist doctrine was the basis of an international communist conspiracy of subversion – with all orders emanating from Moscow.[1] Hook would end his life receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, whose policies in support of death squads in El Salvador he had “applauded.” However, there was a very different Hook, who during the Great Depression was not only a committed communist revolutionary, but the leading Marxist theorist of his generation.

John Bellamy Foster answers three questions on Marxism and ecology

 

In the present planetary epoch, the concept of sustainable human development, as a way of conceiving of socialism, represents Marx’s most valuable legacy. No other ecological analysis has such breadth and power.

 

April 18, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Climate & Capitalism -- John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. His most recent book, written with Paul Burkett, is Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (Brill, 2016). The French magazine La Revue du Projet asked him to reply to three questions on ecology and Marxism.

 

Amadeo Bordiga and the development of a revolutionary core

 

Amadeo Bordiga

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

"We do not wish to evangelize, but to ignite, and when the moment arrives the flame will burst forth."[1] These passionate words were uttered by the Italian socialist Amadeo Bordiga in 1912 and summed up his life's revolutionary mission: to organize for international communist revolution.

The Resolute Subject: Daniel Bensaïd, Voluntarism and Strategy

 

Daniel Bensaïd

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 



To my brother, Daniel, who also made me see the possibilities contained in a moment.

 


April 4. 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, it has been fashionable to say that the time for communist politics has passed. One commentator went so far as to claim that “history had ended,” which meant capitalism was the only game in town. For many leftists, politics shifted from Marxist theory, revolutionary strategy and fighting to win, to begging the ruling class for “realistic” reforms. Yet there remained a stubborn few who refused to accept that capitalism was the sole vision on the horizon, but maintained a stubborn fidelity to Marxism and revolution. One of these was the French Trotskyist, Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010), a key figure of the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, a leading participant in the May 1968 general strike and a militant Marxist intellectual. Bensaïd practiced a critical and creative Marxism throughout his life that fruitfully engaged with other radical political thinkers, such as Blanqui and Benjamin, and he refused to believe that the last word on our future had been said. Rather, he argued that resistance to capitalism was not only possible, but he gave serious thought about what it would take to win. Daniel Bensaïd remains a powerful voice to argue for strategic thinking and developing a “resolute subject” that could overcome the crushing weight of the “objective situation.”

 





"La alternativa socialista: El verdadero desarrollo humano" de Michael Lebowitz

 

[English translation is available here]

March 9, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Lo que sigue es la presentacion hecha por Olga Fernández Ríos en el lanzamiento de la edicion cubana del libro "La alternativa socialista: El verdadero desarrollo humano" en la Feria Internacional del Libro de La Habana el 15 de febrero de 2015

 

* * *

 

Este oportuno libro anteriormente fue publicado por Colección Debates Sobre Socialismo, Corporación Plataforma Nexos, Escaparate Ediciones, Chile, octubre 2012.

 

Su autor es Profesor Emérito de Economía de la Universidad Simon Fraser de Canadá. Para nosotros los cubanos su obra nos s muy familiar y hoy podemos recordar varios de sus trabajos: Más allá de El Capital: la economía política de la clase obrera que recibiera el Premio Deutscher en 2004 a la mejor y más innovadora obra reciente de tradición marxista en el mundo angloparlante. Este texto fue publicado en Cuba en 2008 por la Editorial Ciencias Sociales. De igual forma en 2009 la Editorial Ciencias Sociales publicó El socialismo no cae del cielo y en 2015 Ruth Casa Editorial y el Instituto Juan Marinello publicaron Contradicciones del socialismo real: el dirigente y el dirigido. Más recientemente Lebowitz publicó The socialist imperative.

 

Michael Lebowitz's "The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development"

 

March 6, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following was a presentation given by Cuban scholar Olga Fernández Ríos at the launch of the Cuban edition of Michael Lebowitz' The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development at the Havana International Book Fair, February 15, 2015. It has been translated by Sean Seymour-Jones.

 

Lebowitz will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.

* * *

 

This timely book was previously published by Colección Debates Sobre Socialismo, Corporación Plataforma Nexos, Escaparate Ediciones, Chile, October 2012.

 

Its author is a professor emeritus of economy from the Simon Fraser University of Canada. For us Cubans his work is very familiar and today we can recall many of his works: Beyond Capital: The Political Economy of the Working Class that received the Deutscher Prize in 2004 for the best and most innovative recent work of the Marxist tradition in the English-speaking world. This text was published in Cuba in 2008 by Editorial Ciencias Sociales. Likewise, in 2009 Editorial Ciencias Sociales published Socialism Doesn’t Fall From the Sky and in 2015 Ruth Casa Editorial and the Instituto Juan Marinello published The Contradictions of “Real Socialism”: The Conductor and the Conducted. More recently Lebowitz published The Socialist Imperative.

 

On this occasion, we dealing a study that covers a very topical subject of interest to our country and for the Latin American context: the pertinence and existing possibilities for the development of socialism with a correct understanding of the process of socialist transition.

 

Victor Serge: On the borders of victory and defeat

 

 Victor Serge (left), Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, and André Breton

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

January 18, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In 1941, reflecting on his own life, which spanned several revolutions, exile, and prison, Victor Serge commented:

 

The only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is in no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity. [1]

 

The Tragedies of the Global Commons and the Global Working Class: Reflections on the Papal Encyclical

Michael A. Lebowitz (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalAn earlier version of this paper was presented at ‘The First World Congress on Marxism’ at Peking University, 10 October 2015 in Beijing, China.

‘On Care for Our Common Home’: the premises

Everybody is talking about it — the dangers presented by climate change. Adding significantly, though, to the emphasis upon the need to take dramatic action now has been Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. Its over-riding theme is that we must ‘protect our common home’. ‘The climate,’ the document stresses, ‘is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all’ and is ‘linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’ (23). Not only, however, are we destroying those conditions but, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (21). How is it, the Encyclical asks, that we have ‘so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years’ (53)?

The raw material of exploitation: Harry Braverman's 'Labor and Monopoly Capital'

For more by Doug Enaa Greene.

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 26, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Work sucks. Every day, workers go into jobs they hate, whether in a factory, office or on a checkout line. Workers are made to perform menial and demeaning tasks that have already been outlined for them, down to the smallest details, by management. Their job is so simple that anyone can do it. Ultimately, the worker possesses no control at the workplace.

How that situation came about and what it means for class struggle is the subject of Harry Braverman's classic work, Labor and Monopoly Capital. Braverman's book not only unveils how work is degraded under capital, but remains an important resource for how we understand capitalist society, working-class consciousness, and the class struggle today.

Nicos Poulantzas: State, class and the transition to socialism

Click for more on Nicos Poulantzas and more by Doug Enaa Greene.

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We live in an era where too much of the left, both in the USA and abroad, remains stuck to old orthodoxies and failed strategies. Marxism is reduced to holy writ and rote, devoid of any ability to either interpret or change the world.

In order to win, the left desperately needs to break away from past habits and recover the ability to raise questions anew by using Marxist methodology to formulate strategy. In this endeavour, there are a number of thinkers we can profitably learn from; one of whom is Nicos Poulantzas. Despite the limitations and contradictions within Poulantzas' methods, he was not afraid to ask the right questions and to develop new strategies.

To that end, it is worth looking at Poulantzas' work in three areas: the state, class and the transition to socialism.

I. Biography

Michael Lebowitz's 'The Socialist Imperative': 'A must-read for revolutionaries'

The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
By Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015.
264 pages

Order HERE.

For more by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE. For more by Doug Enaa Greene.

Review by Doug Enaa Greene

July 28, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.

Doug Greene's Gramsci for communists: the video

For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.

For more discussion on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, click HERE.

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was a brilliant Marxist theorist and dedicated revolutionary, whose work is still discussed today. Unfortunately, a great deal of this discussion distorts Gramsci's ideas in order to advance a reformist agenda or is confined to academia. Yet Gramsci was a partisan of class struggle and revolution. Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene lead a discussion on Gramsci's ideas dealing with how to build a communist movement that can win.

For the full text of "Gramsci for Communists, see: http://links.org.au/node/4474

To learn more about the Center of Marxist Education, see https://www.facebook.com/CenterForMarxistEducation

Georg Lukacs: Lessons for struggle today

Doug Enaa Greene's lecture on Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs (1885-1971) and the lessons we can use for today's struggles. The work of Lukacs, who was one of the preeminent communist philosophers of the last century, offers valuable insight on how revolutionaries understand the nature of capitalism, political organising and strategy. Presented to the Center for Marxist Education.

By Doug Enaa Greene

Gramsci for communists

Graphic from Barbwire.

For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.

For more discussion on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, click HERE.

By Doug Enaa Greene

To my mother.

June 22, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The purpose of the Red History Lecture Series since its inception has been to discuss lesser known or neglected socialist and communist figures, movements, and events. So it may be rightfully asked – why discuss Antonio Gramsci?

Gramsci is fairly well known with his work easily available and ideas discussed in universities, countless commentaries and elsewhere. However, there is something potentially worse than obscurity and neglect, and that is to be misunderstood. Unfortunately, that is the fate which has befallen Gramsci.

Marta Harnecker: The origins of capitalist exploitation

For more by or about Marta Harnecker, click HERE.

By Marta Harnecker, translated by María Poblete and Federico Fuentes

April 17, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This text incorporates much of booklet #2 from the original series Cuadernos de Educación Popular (Booklets for Popular Education), which was titled “What is socialism?” and was written by Marta Harnecker in collaboration with Gabriela Uribe. This series was published in Chile during the Popular Unity government, lef by Salvador Allende, and was reprinted in various countries and languages. The text has been revised, some errors have been corrected, and supplementary examples and text boxes have been added, in order to make it easier to comprehend some of the complex ideas it tackles.

In this Booklet for Popular Education we hope to study the fundamental mechanism that explains why, under capitalism, you have a small group of people who possess a lot of wealth and enjoy an easy life, while a significant portion of workers find themselves in a very difficult situation.

Mike Treen: Une critique de la théorie des crises

[English text and video at http://links.org.au/node/4156.]

Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat Unite, explique pourquoi le capitalisme continue à connaître des crises aujourd’hui, et pourquoi ces crises vont se répéter avec une sévérité accrue jusqu’à ce que les travailleurs prennent le pouvoir et imposent une propriété, un contrôle et une planification démocratiques pour répondre aux besoins à la fois de l’humanité et de Mère Nature.

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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Ce qui suit est basé sur les propos de Mike Treen, directeur national du syndicat néozélandais Unite, à la conférence annuelle de l’organisation socialiste Fightback, qui s’est tenue à Wellington, 31 mai – 1er juin 2014, et un séminaire hébergé par Socialist Aotearoa le 12 octobre. Traduit par Gabriel Stollsteiner

Paul Le Blanc: Explorations in plain Marxism: revolutionary theory, practical action

"For many developing intellectually in the English-speaking world during the early 1960s, the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills (on his way to work above) was an incredibly important influence."

For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE. For more discussion of Marxist theory, click HERE.

By Paul Le Blanc

January 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The ideas of Karl Marx are often put forward as an invaluable resource for those wishing to understand the world in order to change it for the better. Yet various people who speak as Marxists often insist upon divergent ways of understanding even the most basic concepts associated with Marxism – such as capitalism and the working class.

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