Marxist theory

What is Socialism for the 21st Century? A talk by Michael Lebowitz

 

 

June 20, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Speaking at the "Socialism in the 21st Century" conference held in Sydney in May 2016, leading Marxist author Michael Lebowitz, who writes and researches the problems and possibilities of building a socialist alternative, presents a paper on what socialism might look like in this century and the differences with 20th century socialism as represented by the developments in the Soviet Union.

 

The conference was organised by the Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

 

Machiavelli and the primacy of politics





 

 


By Doug Enaa Greene

 

Dedicated to my friend Destiney Linker.

 


June 10, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we were to look at most people who have existed throughout history – we can say that they lived in obscurity, dire poverty, possessing no titles or pretensions to greatness. They lived and died in toil. The vast majority of humanity has passed through these conditions. Yet what did these people think about their circumstances and what to do about them?

Understanding Marx: A very, very basic introduction

 

 

By Ryne Tipton

 

June 6, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The North Star -- If we want to understand a Marxist analysis of capitalism, we have to go back to the beginning of human society and civilization.

 

At the crossroads of Blanquism and Leninism

 

 

Doug Greene, author of the forthcoming "Specters of Communism: Blanqui and Marx", takes up the accusation that Leninism is "Blanquist".

 

By Douglas Enaa Greene[1]

 

June 1, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Rosa Luxemburg once said that Bolshevism is nothing more than the “mechanical transposition of the organizational principles of Blanquism into the mass movement of the socialist working class.”[2] Many leftists, both now and a century ago, share Luxemburg's position that Leninism is elitist and/or Blanquism. Yet all of these judgments are far off the mark. For Lenin, Blanquism was something that the communist movement needed to overcome if they wanted to win a successful socialist revolution. Leninism is not simply Blanquism or Jacobinism adapted to Russian conditions, but the development of a Marxist mode of politics that draws clear revolutionary lessons from the defeat of the Paris Commune. The central operator of the Leninist mode of politics is a revolutionary vanguard party devoted to the emancipation of the oppressed workers and peasants. However, there remains a grain of truth in the accusation that Leninism is Blanquist, since “Blanquism” is a label used by social democrats and revisionists to condemn the revolutionary essence of Marxism

 

Party, class, and Marxism: Did Kautsky advocate ‘Leninism’?

 

 

Karl Kautsky

 

By Eric Blanc

 

May 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from JohnRiddell.wordpress.com -- The question of broad parties has been heatedly debated by socialists in recent years. Many have argued that “Leninism” should be discarded in favor of wider formations such as Syriza, Podemos, the British Labour Party, the Greens, etc. Others have rejected participating in such structures, on the “Leninist” grounds that building independent revolutionary Marxist parties remains the strategic organizational task for socialists.

 

Intertwined with this debate has been a serious reassessment of “Leninism” itself. Particularly following the publication of Lars Lih’s monumental Lenin Rediscovered, big questions are being asked: Did Lenin break in theory and/or practice with the “orthodox” strategy articulated by Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky? Were the Bolsheviks, in other words, a “party of a new type”?

 

Building alternatives to neoliberalism in Latin America today: An interview with Michael Lebowitz

 

 

May 24, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Leading Marxist author Michael A. Lebowitz has dedicated a big part of his research to the problem of the possibilities of building a socialist alternative. He spent six years (2004-2010) in Venezuela working as a director of the program for Transformative Practice and Human Development at the Miranda International Center (CIM) in Caracas, where he had the opportunity to participate in the building of “socialism for 21st century”.

 

Lebowitz was recently in Australia for the Socialism in the 21st Century conference, which was co-hosted by Links. In the interview published below, Lebowitz covers some of the topics he discussed during his visit regarding the opposition to neoliberalism and the prospects for a socialist alternative in Latin America today.

 

Lines of debate: the subaltern and the proletariat of the world

 

 

May 22, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice with permission — Reverberations of the international crisis have resurrected the idea of the working class as revolutionary political actor from the crypt. Today, with evidence of growing labor unrest in both “emerging economies” as well as imperialist nations like France and the United States, there has been a renewed interest in the working class, its organizations, and potential to lead resistance against austerity governments and increasing inequalities.

 

Marcel van der Linden is Senior Researcher at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, widely recognized for his work on global labor history. In this interview, Ideas de Izquierda’s Paula Varela speaks with Van der Linden about Marx’s conceptualization of the working class and Van der Linden’s efforts to build on this theory with the idea of “subaltern workers.” He discusses the challenges posed by rethinking the current conditions and future of the “global proletariat” as a key element in strategies for contending power.

 

The Communist Order of Samurai: Leon Trotsky and the Red Army

 

 

Leon Trotsky addresses soldiers of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War

 



By Doug Enaa Greene

 



Dedicated to my friend, Sam Miller.

 


May 17, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Marxist historian Victor Serge described Trotsky's task in organizing the Red Army as its enemies threatened the embattled Soviet Republic as follows:

 

The principal organizer of the October Revolution now has the task of organizing the defence of the Soviet Republic. He goes to war, forges the blade, carries the responsibility on all fronts. He incarnates, in its keenest expression, the revolution’s will to survive.[1]

 

In 1918, Trotsky was given the job of creating a Red Army to fight off its enemies from within and without. Organizing an effective army in a society shattered and exhausted by war would have been a monumental task for even the most experienced general. Yet Trotsky, who possessed no military training, forged a well-organized, centralized, disciplined and effective fighting army of 5.5 million people by 1920 that was fired by revolutionary zeal and triumphed in the Civil War.

 

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.

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