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Marxist theory

What is socialism for the twenty-first century?

 

 

By Michael A. Lebowitz

 

October 11, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Monthly Review — Often the best way to begin to understand something is to consider what it is not. Socialism for the twenty-first century is not a society in which people sell their ability to work and are directed from above by others whose goal is profits rather than the satisfaction of human needs. It is not a society where the owners of the means of production benefit by dividing workers and communities in order to drive down wages and intensify work—i.e., gain by increasing exploitation. Socialism for the twenty-first century, in short, is not capitalism.

 

Walter Benjamin, Louis-Auguste Blanqui and the apocalypse

 

 

Paris Commune

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 27, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In the Spring of 1940, as the Nazis conquered France and were the dominant power on the European continent, the exiled German Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote his final work, Theses on the Philosophy of History. In a moment of political defeat, with fascism triumphant, the parties of the far left lying prostrate and subjugated, Benjamin penned the following words:

 

The subject of historical cognition is the battling, oppressed class itself. In Marx it steps forwards as the final enslaved and avenging class, which carries out the work of emancipation in the name of generations of downtrodden to its conclusion. This consciousness, which for a short time made itself felt in the “Spartacus” [Spartacist splinter group, the forerunner to the German Communist Party], was objectionable to social democracy from the very beginning. In the course of three decades it succeeded in almost completely erasing the name of Blanqui, whose distant thunder [Erzklang] had made the preceding century tremble. [1]

 

The Communist Manifesto: A weapon of war

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 16, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — With the exception of the Bible, no other work in history has been more praised and denounced, analyzed and criticized, both seriously and superficially, than the Communist Manifesto.

“Dialectical materialism,” ideology and revisionism

 

 

By Jason Devine

September 9, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — As I have extensively argued elsewhere, “dialectical materialism” as the philosophy of Marxism does not exist.[1] Indeed, when Marx listed in his famous letter to Joseph Weydemeyer what he felt and understood to be his scientific contributions, dialectical materialism as a name, concept, and system was conspicuously missing.[2] Further, when Engels spoke at Marx’s graveside he mentioned Marx’s scientific discoveries, but at no point did he mention dialectical materialism as a name, concept, or system.[3] This is no surprise as the phrase “dialectical materialism” was never used by Marx or Engels and hence appears nowhere in their entire oeuvre, either published or unpublished. Indeed, Marx developed a new scientific method, not a system.[4]

 

‘The hammer blow of the revolution’: Rosa Luxemburg’s critique of bourgeois democracy

 

 

By Michael Löwy, translated by Dan La Botz

 

August 8, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from New Politics — Rosa Luxemburg’s defense of socialist democracy and her critique of the Bolsheviks in her pamphlet The Russian Revolution (1918) are well known. Less well known and often forgotten is her critique of bourgeois democracy, its limits, its contradictions, and its narrow and partial character.

Georgi Plekhanov: Tragedy of a forerunner

 

 

Georgi Plekhanov

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

July 28, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — When the names of Russian Marxism are remembered, those of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin figure as leading lights. However, these figures built upon the pioneering work of Georgi Plekhanov. Plekhanov almost single-handedly introduced Marxism into the Russian Empire and popularized it for a generation of socialist militants. However, Plekhanov's Marxism was seriously flawed in a number of ways and he was not up to the challenge of revolutionary politics. It fell to the generation who came after him to carry the struggle forward to victory. Yet Plekhanov's limitations do not take away from his contributions as a pioneer, something always recognized by his Marxist pupils.

 

[21세기사회주의 컨퍼런스] 마이클 레보위츠 인터뷰: 오늘날 라틴아메리카 신자유주의 대안 만들기

 

 

[Original in English here.]

 

국제전략센터/International Strategy Center -- 2016년 5월 24일 – 링크스– 마이클 레보위츠는 사회주의적 대안 구축에서 나타날 수 있는 문제점을 연구하는데 많은 시간을 할애해온 맑스주의의 선도적 인물이다. 레보위츠는 2004년부터 2010년까지 6년간 베네수엘라 까라까스의 미란다 국제 센터(CIM)에서 혁신적 실천방안과 인간 발전을 위한 프로그램 개발 책임자로 일하면서 “21세기 사회주의” 건설에 참여할 기회를 가졌다.

 

레보위츠는 최근 링크스와 공동 주최로 호주에서 개최된 21세기 사회주의 컨퍼런스에 참석했다. 아래 내용은 컨퍼런스에서 레보위츠가 중심이 되어 논의한 오늘날 라틴 아메리카에서의 신자유주의 반대와 사회주의 대안 전망에 대해 인터뷰한 내용이다.

 

John Bellamy Foster: The anthropocene and Marxism today

 

 

July 24, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal via Climate & Capitalism -- John Bellamy Foster discusses the theoretical and programmatic challenges that the Anthropocene, a dangerous new epoch in planetary history, poses for socialists in the 21st century.

 

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and co-author of The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth. He spoke at the Marxism 2016 conference in London on July 2.

Cops, class & race: How to stop police violence

 

 

July 22, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A discussion about the origins of the police and their relationship to racism, class and capitalism featuring Dr. Khury Petersen-Smith.

 

A missed revolutionary opportunity: The Comintern Third Congress discussion on the 1920 Italian factory occupations

 

 

Factories under control of the Red Guards in Italy, 1920

 

Introductory note by Mike Taber and John Riddell

 

July 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review -- As the Communist International’s Third Congress convened in Moscow in June–July 1921, the powerful working-class upsurge that had shaken Italy months earlier was fresh in delegates’ minds and posed a backdrop to their debates.

 

The September 1920 occupation of the factories in Italy is a lesser-known revolutionary experience of the post–World War I years, yet its impact was no less significant. By starkly posing the question of which class should run the economy, the occupations legitimized a new form of proletarian struggle—expressed in part through the tactic of the sit-down strike that was widely utilized during the 1930s. Possessing the potential for working-class victory, the defeat of this movement instead opened the door to the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism.

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.
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