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Marxist theory

PolyluxMarx: A guide to reading Karl Marx's 'Capital'

April 14, 2014 -- PolyluxMarx -- For several years now, people have been starting to dust off Marx and return to his analysis of society. This is mainly due to the social turmoil in global capitalism, weaknesses in prevailing explanations of economic relationships and the harrowing crises the world has faced since the 1990s.

In particular, a younger generation of readers – untainted by former ideological battles – is starting to read Capital. Whether in universities, educational institutions, unions or in their own living rooms, small groups are discussing Marx’s critique of political economy.

This is exactly what PolyluxMarx aims to support. This website provides a collection of annotated PowerPoint slides that illustrate the central arguments from Capital. We also use concise introductory texts and notes on methodology and learning to make Capital easier to read.

Michael Lebowitz: A path to socialism -- building upon the foundations began by Hugo Chavez

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Michael Lebowitz

March 2014 -- Monthly Review -- It is now one year since the unfortunate death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013. Shortly after, the editors of Monthly Review quoted a letter from István Mészáros to John Bellamy Foster which described Chávez as “one of the greatest historical figures of our time” and “a deeply insightful revolutionary intellect” (“Notes from the Editors” in the May 2013 Monthly Review). Whether Chávez will be remembered over time this way, however, depends significantly on whether we build upon the foundations he began.

John Bellamy Foster: Marx and the rift in the universal metabolism of nature

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

* * *

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article is an expanded and slightly altered version of a keynote address under the same title presented to the Marxism 2013 Conference in Stockholm on October 20, 2013. That address built on ideas introduced in the author’s Rosa Luxemburg Lecture, “The Great Rift,” presented to the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin on May 28, 2013.]

Love and revolution

Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort – one of those who risks his skin to prove his truths...I have loved you very much, only I haven’t known how to express my affection. I am extremely rigid in my actions, and I think that sometimes you didn’t understand me. It hasn’t been easy to understand me. Nevertheless, please take me at my word today…An abrazo (hug) from your obstinate and prodigal son. -- Che Guevara, March 31,1965

By John Rainford

Alienation in Karl Marx’s early writing

Young Marx.

By Daniel Lopez

October 15, 2013 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As Karl Korsh noted in Marxism and Philosophy, the philosophical foundation of Marx’s works has often been neglected. The Second International had, in Korsch’s view, pushed aside philosophy as an ideology, preferring “science”. This, he charged, tended to reduce Marxism to a positivistic sociology, and in so doing, it internalised and replicated the theoretical logic of capitalism. [1] In place of this, Korsch called for a revitalisation of Marxism that would view philosophy not simply as false consciousness but as a necessary part of the social totality.[2]

Socialists and the fight against rape culture, misogyny and women's oppression

For more discussion on feminism, click HERE.

October 13, 2013 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance and socialist youth group Resistance held a seminar in Sydney on March 14, 2013, on the topic of 21st century feminism. Socialist Alliance's Lisa Macdonald, a Green Left Weekly journalist, and Alison Pennington, a member of the Resistance and Socialist Alliance, spoke about the culture of violence that exists in our society, how women can fight collectively to live in an equal and violence-free society, and why socialists wholeheartedly support these struggles.

Climate change: What would Frederick Engels say?

By Martin O'Beirne

September 30, 2013 -- The Ecosocialist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- We had not yet destabilised the climate and trounced other planetary ecological boundaries back in 1876 when Frederick Engels wrote these passages in his unfinished The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man. But it is clear that back then Engels had established a biophilous ethic, or in his words:

The senseless and unnatural idea of a contrast between mind and matter, man and nature, soul and body ... but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature ... [and] the more will men not only feel but also know their oneness with nature.

Five years after the economic meltdown: Riches for some, poverty for the rest

Last Man Standing and heavyweight champion of the world

Last man standing.

By Rupen Savoulian

October 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Antipodean Atheist -- Five years ago, in September 2008, the giant investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, filing for bankruptcy. This was the largest, but not the only, banking and investment firm to go under in that year, signalling the beginning of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis. Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, IndyMac and a host of financial institutions went bust, were taken over by the US federal government (yes, in the United States where private corporations are venerated, banks were nationalised) and returned to private ownership or continued in different forms.

John Bellamy Foster: The epochal crisis -- the combined capitalist economic and planetary ecological crises

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster

Parts of this argument on epochal crisis were presented in three overlapping keynote addresses in: (1) Esslingen, Germany on May 30, 2013, at a conference on Marxist thought organized by the Berlin Institute of Critical Theory (InkriT) and the Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch Des Marximus; (2) New York City on June 9, 2013, at the closing plenary of the Left Forum; and (3) Dublin on June 27, 2013, at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The argument has been revised and updated based on the original notes for these talks.

Jonathan Sperber's new bio seeks to bury Karl Marx, not praise him

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

Click for more on Karl Marx and Marxist theory.

By Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Simon Butler: Marxism and the ecological revolution (audio)

Simon Butler.

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australian Socialist Alliance national executive member Simon Butler gave this speech, "Marxism and the ecological revolution", at the Marxism 2013 conference, which was held in Melbourne, Australia, over March 28-31. The conference was organised by Socialist Alternative.

In the talk Butler explores Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' much neglected insights into the anti-ecological dynamic of capitalism, a system based on the dual exploitation of labour and nature. He also discusses the relevance of Marx's ecology for meeting today's crises and makes an argument for why 21st century socialists should also be ecosocialists.

The role of the united-front tactic

Australian protest against the US war on Vietnam. Socialists argued for the movement to have as its central demand the call for the immediate withdrawal of US and Australian troops from Vietnam.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This talk was presented by Peter Boyle representing the then Democratic Socialist Party (since merged with the Socialist Alliance) to a workshop with comrades from the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia in 2000. It was based on a talk by Doug Lorimer to a Resistance leadership training school in Sydney on April 24-25, 1995. It was published in The Activist, volume 5, number 6, 1995. Doug Lorimer passed away on July 21, 2013. Read more of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.]

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The Great Rift: Capitalism and the metabolism of nature and production

August 7, 2013 -- MRZine -- John Bellamy Foster: We need a society that is geared, as István Mészáros always tells us, to substantive equality. And no compromise on the issue of equality. Bolívar said equality is the law of laws. So we need substantive equality and we need ecological sustainability. And they have to go together. How do we know they have to go together? Because what is causing the ecological damage and what is causing the social damage is the same thing: it's the rift in the production system; it's the alienation of nature, which is one with the alienation of human society.

Å bygge sosialisme for det tjueførste hundreåret: intervju med Michael A Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3355.]

Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.

– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?

- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?

Marxism and women's liberation: talks by Sharon Smith, Abbie Bakan (video and text)

July 12, 2013 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith's talks on why it is impossible to be a Marxist without also embracing feminism. It was presented to the International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 27-30.

Abbie Bakan is head of the department of gender studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a professor of political studies. Her research focuses on employment equity, Marxist theory and anti-oppression politics. Sharon Smith is author of Women and Socialism, Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States and the forthcoming Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation.

For more video and audio from the Socialism 2013 conference, go to Wearemany.org.

Freedom and socialism

"There is a great divide between what freedom means to the capitalists and workers. For capitalists it means freedom to exploit, how and whenever they please...For workers it can mean nothing less than liberation from the chains of poverty and oppression."

By Kyle Matzpen

May 27, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – By both its detractors and some of its supposed supporters, the name of socialism has been dragged through the mud. The word “socialism” is conjured up as a demon, a great dictatorial beast, bent on destroying all liberties and homogenising all differences. It is understood that under any system called socialism, the individual is reduced to nothing, while the state is risen on high to an omnipotent throne built on gulags, purges and secret police.

Building socialism for the 21st century: interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

Michael A. Lebowitz interviewed by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović

May 7, 2013 -- Left East,suggested to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Michael Lebowitz.

Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović: Capitalism has been in crisis for several years now and in response to this crisis the capitalist states practice  so-called austerity measures. If we look at the historical dynamics of capitalism in the last half century, we see that they responded to the crisis of the 1970s with what is now called “neoliberalism”. If the restoration of growth is what must be carried out as a response to the crisis, we can say that neoliberalism of the 1970s was successful. Yet, can we say same of present-day “austerity measures”?

Michael Lebowitz: 'Spectres and struggles' (video): a new vision for socialism in the 21st century

By Michael A. Lebowitz

May 3, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The above talk was presented in Zagreb, Croatia, at a conference organised by the Centre of Workers' Studies.(More videos are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/SkriptaTV?feature=watch.)

A spectre is haunting the working class of Europe (both east and west) and the working class of developed capitalism in general. That spectre is the spectre of communism. For the working class, that frightful hobgoblin is a society of little freedom, a society of workers without power (in the workplace or community) and a society where decisions are made at the top by a vanguard party which views itself as the sole repository of truth. Of course, this was not what communism meant for Karl Marx and Frederick Engels nor, indeed, for Lenin.

Michael Lebowitz: Primitive accumulation versus contested reproduction (video)

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Michael A. Lebowitz, Ljubljana

May 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we don't understand a system as it is fully developed [its "being"] and thus its critical characteristics, we cannot investigate the "becoming" of those characteristics.

This is why Marx discussed primitive (or original) accumulation of capital only at the end of volume 1 of Capital. Exclusive focus upon the emergence of the new elements, however, is not real history. "Becoming" is two sided: it is both a coming into being and a passing away. The concept of primitive accumulation explores only the former; it considers the new being born but not the old struggling to remain alive. It is, in short, one-sided. Not only does it fail to explore on its own the struggle of the old for its reproduction but it also does not consider the interaction, the morbid symptoms and dysfunction when two sets of productive relations are engaged in contested reproduction with respect to their control of the elements of production.

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