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Toward a global strategic framework: The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 1)

 

 

Manabendra Nath Roy

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The revolutionary activists who founded the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919 had little contact with movements for national and colonial liberation outside Russia. Nonetheless, only a year later, in July 1920, the Comintern adopted a far-reaching strategy for national and social revolution in dependent countries, later termed the anti-imperialist united front.

 

Karl Korsch's Philosophical Bolshevism

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

January 25, 2018
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal When Karl Korsch is remembered, he is generally alongside Georg Lukács and Antonio Gramsci as one of the founders of “Western Marxism”. Western Marxism is typically viewed as a diverse trend that focuses more on issues of culture and ideology instead of political economy, and eschews political engagement. It is certainly the case that most of what we understand by Western Marxism, notably the Frankfurt School, falls under that broad definition.

 

After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Korsch believed that Marxism needed to be restored as a revolutionary philosophy. Korsch wrote his most famous work, Marxism and Philosophy, in 1923 when he was a leader in the Communist Party of Germany. Far from being a Western Marxist, Korsch like Gramsci and Lukács, is better characterized as a “Philosophical Bolshevik” who was committed to the theory and practice of socialist revolution.

 

Building on the legacy of socialism

 

 

 


 

By Vaios Triantafyllou

 

November 30, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from MR Online — Following the intense revolutionary experiences and struggles of the past century, intense debate has emerged on the relationship between socialist theory and practice. How is socialist theory applied during struggles for civil and economic rights, and how is it applied when a revolutionary struggle is successful? What is the role of democracy in such a process, and how are democratic principles incorporated in the pursuit of socialism? Were the mistakes and failures in the effort to build a socialist society inherent to its premises, or were there other factors that led to those failures?

 

Clearing up Marx and profit: ending the ‘Transformation Problem’ once and for all

 

 

Money and Totality, A Macro-Monetary Interpretation of Marx’s Logic in Capital and the End of the ‘Transformation Problem’
By Fred Mosely
Haymarket Books, 2016,
416 pp., $47.99

 

By Barry Healy

 

October 31, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Karl Marx published Volume 1 of Capital in 1867. By the time of its second German edition, just six years later he wrote, in a postscript: “That the method employed in ‘Das Kapital’ has been little understood, is shown by the various conceptions, contradictory one to another, that have been formed of it.”[1]

 

If anything, the contradictory conceptions have grown worse since then with various, near-intractable debates raging within Marxist circles. One of the fiercest of those debates is over the so-called “Transformation Problem”.

 

Marxist theories of the state played out in Venezuela

 

 

By Steve Ellner

 

October 15, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Steve Ellner's Blog on Venezuela, Latin America and Beyond — An abridged version of this article was published in Historical Materialism, volume 25, no. 2, 2017, pages 29-62

 

Gracchus Babeuf revisited

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 11, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from RS21 — In most English language scholarship on the French Revolution, Gracchus Babeuf (1760-1797) remains a marginal figure. At most, he merits a mention in a few paragraphs, where he is generally portrayed as an eclectic and utopian figure, who led an extremist movement doomed to fail. Sadly that view is shared by too many socialists, who dismiss Babeuf as just a Jacobin elitist with little to teach the present. Thankfully, Ian Birchall’s Spectre of Babeuf provides a welcome corrective to the neglect of Babeuf by giving him the respect he deserves as a participant in the French Revolution and as an original socialist thinker from whom revolutionaries can still learn a great deal.

 

Crisis and Breakdown

 

 

 

“Either the socialist transformation is, as was admitted up to now, the consequence of the internal contradictions of capitalism, and with the growth of capitalism will develop its inner contradictions, resulting inevitably, at some point, in its collapse, (in that case the “means of adaptation” are ineffective and the theory of collapse is correct); or the “means of adaptation” will really stop the collapse of the capitalist system and thereby enable capitalism to maintain itself by suppressing its own contradictions. In that case socialism ceases to be an historic necessity. It then becomes anything you want to call it, but it is no longer the result of the material development of society."

 

Rosa Luxemburg

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

Marxism: The philosophy of praxis

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

To Harrison and Sam.

 

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”
-Karl Marx

"Marxism is the theory of the proletarian movement for emancipation."
-V. I. Lenin

 

Jose Carlos Mariategui 87 Years Later

 

 

By Marc Becker

 

June 23, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from TeleSUR English — In 1930, Waldo Frank wrote in the leftist U.S. weekly the Nation that the April 16 death of Jose Carlos Mariategui had plunged “the intelligentsia of all of Hispano-America into sorrow; and nothing could be more eloquent of the cultural separation between the two halves of the new world than the fact that to most of us these words convey no meaning.”

 

His funeral turned into one of the largest processions of workers ever seen in the streets of Lima, Peru, but in the United States his death was hardly noticed. Unfortunately, 87 years later Mariategui is still largely unknown in the English-speaking world, even as his status as the founder of Latin American Marxism remains as relevant as ever for understanding political changes sweeping across the region.

 

Hats and men: Marx's faulty symmetry

 

 

By Michael A. Lebowitz

 

May 11, 2017
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — Was Marx a superman or a human being? Joan Robinson once asked a Soviet professor this very question. Of course, Marx was human, he answered. ‘Then he could make mistakes?’ Yes. ‘Would you mind mentioning a mistake that he made?’ The Soviet professor changed the subject.[1]

 

However, 150 years after the publication of Volume I of Capital, it is long past time for revolutionaries not to change the subject but to talk seriously about mistakes Marx made in Capital and their implications. This article is about one such mistake and how it infected Capital and subsequent practice.

 

John Bellamy Foster answers five questions about Marxism and ecology

 
 
Introduction by Ian Angus

 

March 30, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Climate & CapitalismThe Indian website Ecologise recently published John Bellamy Foster’s Foreword to my book Facing the Anthropocene. Commenting on Foster’s article, journalist and activist Saral Sarkar, who describes his views as eco-socialist, raised questions that challenge the usefulness of Marxist analysis in understanding the global ecological crisis. Foster’s reply was posted by Ecologise on March 26.

 

Revolutionary theory and popularization

 
 

By Doug Greene

 

February 23, 2017 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice with the author's permission — Marxist theory is not the same thing as the popularization of socialist or communist ideas but is (at its best) an open-ended, creative, and continually developing theoretical framework for understanding and changing the world. As Lenin put it, "without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."[1] However, in order for Marxist theory to fulfil its goal, ways must be found to popularize it for millions so they can understand and apply it.

 

Marxism, art and utopia: Critical theory and political aesthetics

 

 

By Cat Moir

 

“After one has enjoyed the first taste of Marxist criticism, one will never again be able to stand ideological hogwash.” – Ernst Bloch, Spirit of Utopia, 1918

 

January 30, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — The relationship between art and society has always been a central question for artists, thinkers and activists on the Left. In the twentieth century, it was commonplace to believe that art has the power to change the world. It was this conviction that motivated Georg Lukács to defend the literary realism of writers like Thomas Mann over the stylistic innovations of a James Joyce. For Lukács (1977: 33), literature was “a particular form by means of which objective reality is reflected,” and as such it was “of crucial importance for it to grasp that reality as it truly is.” By displaying social reality in all its contradictory complexity, Lukács believed, art could serve the interests of class struggle and social emancipation.

 

Michael Lebowitz: If you don’t understand the second product, you understand nothing about Marx's Capital

 

 

Presentation by Michael A. Lebowitz

 

January 29, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The following talk was given at the International conference "150 years Karl Marx’s Capital - Reflections for the 21st century" held in Athens, Greece on January 14-15, 2017. Organised by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - Athens Office in cooperation with Theseis, the conference discussed the actuality of Marx’s theoretical system of the critique of political economy 150 years on from the publication of Capital Volume I.

 

Georgi Plekhanov and the roots of Soviet philosophy

 

 

By Jason Devine

 

January 11, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– Marxism was born through a critical appropriation of Hegel’s method and a radical break with the philosophy of Young Hegelianism.[1] With this, Marx declared that philosophy was over. As he wrote to Ferdinand Lassalle in regards to the Hegelian dialectic, “This dialectic is, to be sure, the ultimate word in philosophy and hence there is all the more need to divest it of the mystical aura given it by Hegel.”[2] Even more explicitly, Engels wrote in an early introduction to his Anti-Dühring: “The Hegelian system was the last and consummate form of philosophy, in so far as the latter is presented as a special science superior to every other. All philosophy collapsed with this system.”[3] Hence, any attempts to revive philosophy i.e. a specific form of ideology, could only be a step backwards from the advance made by Marx and Engels, could only ever be a reactionary project. If carried out within Marxism it can only mean a reversion back to pre-Marxist times, to pre-scientific views in the study of society. Dialectical materialism as the philosophy of Marxism is exactly such a reactionary turn. In fact, dialectical materialism, the ruling philosophy in the USSR, a philosophy which, in whole or in part, countless Marxist-Leninist parties, groups, and sects claim adherence to today, was essentially the product of Georgi Plekhanov. However, Plekhanov’s philosophy of dialectical materialism was not and is not synonymous with Marx’s method, with scientific socialism. Rather, the former can be more correctly described as neo-Young Hegelian.

 

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.
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