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Marxist theory

Robert Brenner: A Marxist explanation for the current capitalist economic crisis

Robert Brenner.

Marxist economist Robert Brenner was interviewed by Seongjin Jeong for Hankyoreh, one of South Korea’s leading daily newspapers. The interview was published on January 22, 2009.

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Seongjin Jeong: Most media and analysts label the current crisis as a ``financial crisis''. Do you agree with this characterisation?

Robert Brenner: It's understandable that analysts of the crisis have made the meltdown in banking and the securities markets their point of departure. But the difficulty is that they have not gone any deeper. From US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke on down, they argue that the crisis can be explained simply in terms of problems in the financial sector. At the same time, they assert that the underlying real economy is strong, the so-called fundamentals in good shape.

Paul M. Sweezy: Cars and cities -- `automobilisation' and the `automobile-industrial complex'

By Paul M. Sweezy

[This classic essay first appeared in Monthly Review, vol. 24, no. 11 (April 1973). It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Monthly Review.]

“Cities, after all, have a great deal in common with cars. More and more, in fact, they often seem to be turning into cars. There are deep mysteries here, impenetrable to the present shallow state of human understanding. Somehow, we know not how, things communicate.” — Russell Baker, New York Times, March 8, 1973

Marx is back! Karl Marx and his contribution to the socialist tradition

The ideas of Karl Marx -- that class society creates great wealth for the few at the expense of the many  --  ring truer every day. Brian Jones, a member of the International Socialist Organization of the United States, examines Marx's revolutionary ideas in the following three articles. These articles first appeared in Socialist Worker, newspaper of the International Socialist Organization of the United States. They have been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission of Socialist Worker.

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

Pamphlet: Comrades in arms: Women in the Russian Revolution

To mark International Women's Day, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an excerpt from Resistance Books' Comrades in arms: Women in the Russian Revolution, by Kathy Fairfax, and making available the entire pamphlet to download in PDF format (see below).

By Kathy Fairfax

The popular image of the Russian Revolution is of a revolution made by men. Ask the person in the street to name a figure from the Russian Revolution and most could come up with Lenin, Stalin, maybe Trotsky. A few might have heard of Zinoviev, Kamenev or Bukharin. But how many would name Kollontai, Armand or Krupskaya? How many know of the women who helped make revolution in Russia? How many know about the thousands of female Bolsheviks who marched through the streets of Petrograd in 1917 or shouted revolutionary speeches to cheering crowds or wrote and distributed pamphlets calling for revolution? In fact, women revolutionaries inspired the working class the world over and inaugurated a new era in world history.

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John Bellamy Foster: A failed system -- The world crisis of capitalist globalisation and its impact on China

By John Bellamy Foster

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is coauthor, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. This article was originally a presentation delivered to the International Conference on the Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization, Suzhou University, Suzhou, China, January 11, 2009. It appeared in the March edition of Monthly Review and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Bellamy Foster's permission.

Michael Lebowitz: The path to human development -- capitalism or socialism?

The following is the preface to an important article in the March 2009 issue of Monthly Review by Michael Lebowitz, entitled "The path to human development: capitalism or socialism?". Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal encourages its readers to follow the link below to the full article. Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

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By Michael A. Lebowitz

If we believe in people, if we believe that the goal of a human society must be that of “ensuring overall human development”, our choice is clear: socialism or barbarism.

Karl Marx the ecologist

By Simon Butler

February 21, 2009 -- As the world economy spirals down into its deepest crisis since the great depression, the writings of Karl Marx have made a return to the top seller lists in bookstores. In his native Germany, the sales of Marx’s works have trebled.

His theories have been treated with contempt by conservative economists and historians. Yet, in the context of the latest economic downturn, even a few mainstream economists have been compelled to ask whether Marx was right after all.

Marx argued that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with contradictions and prone to deep crises.

Exploitation, war, hunger and poverty were not problems that could be solved by the market system, he said. Rather, they were inescapable outcomes of the system itself. This is because capitalism is dominated by the wealthiest corporations and devoted to profit above all else.

Only a move to a democratic socialist society, where ordinary people are empowered to make the key decisions about the economy and society themselves, can open the path to genuine freedom and liberation.

`Let us rediscover Marx' -- Two talks on Michael Lebowitz's `Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class'

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets. Find other articles by Michael Lebowitz HERE.]

Charles Darwin and materialist science; Darwin the reluctant revolutionary

Two articles by Canadian Marxist Ian Angus discuss the important legacy of Charles Darwin in the 200th year since his birth and the 150th anniversary year of the publication of On the Origin of Species. This first article appeared in Canada's Socialist Voice, and the second in the Britain's Socialist Resistance. Ian Angus will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

Darwin and materialist science

By Ian Angus

Socialist Voice -- February 12, 2009 is Darwin Day, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. His masterwork, On the Origin of Species, was published 150 years ago, in November 1859, initiating a revolution in science that continues to this day.

Although Darwin’s political views were far from radical, his insights became the central weapons in the battle to establish materialist science as the basis for our understanding of the world, and contributed to the development of Marxism.

Luis Bilbao: Venezuela and `the rebirth of the idea of revolution'

Photo by Coral Wynter.

Interview with Luis Bilbao, conducted by Agustina Desalvo for the Argentinian journal Razón y Revolución, issue #18 (second semester 2008). Translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes and published with the permission of Bilbao.

Luis Bilbao is a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); founding editor of the Latin America-wide monthly magazine América XXI. Luis Bilbao will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.

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Free pamphlet: Revolutionaries and parliament: The Bolshevik experience

By Maurice Sibelle

One of the greatest obstacles to winning working people to the perspective of a socialist revolution is the widespread and deeply ingrained illusion — inculcated in their minds day-in and day-out by the capitalist rulers — that through the institutions of bourgeois democracy, particularly parliament, working people can defend and advance their interests.

Historical experience has shown that socialists cannot destroy this widely held illusion simply by presenting arguments against it. On the contrary, the working masses can only be convinced that parliament is an instrument of capitalist rule when this argument is backed up by their own experience. That is, the masses of working people will have to go through the practical experience of struggles in which they can test the limits that the parliamentary system places on their activity before they can be convinced of the necessity of overthrowing this system and replacing it with genuinely democratic political institutions — a centralised system of elected committees or councils of working people’s delegates like the Russian soviets of workers’ deputies that emerged in the 1905 revolution and again in 1917.

Between 1912-14, the Russian Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin were able to use the tsarist parliament — the Duma — to help build a revolutionary workers’ movement. This experience provides possibly the richest period for lessons in revolutionary parliamentarism. It was a vital period in the history of the Bolshevik Party. The work done in this period laid the ground work for the rapid changes that occurred in 1917 and the eventual victory of the October Revolution.

Lenin on liquidationism

By Chris Slee

January 2007 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years there have been a number of cases where revolutionary Marxist parties have initiated or participated in attempts at building broad socialist parties. Examples include the Scottish Socialist Party; the Socialist Alliance and later Respect in England; the Socialist Alliance in Australia; Papernas in Indonesia; participation in the Party of Communist Refoundation in Italy; and the New Anti-Capitalist Party initiated by the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire) in France.

Sometimes Marxist groups that participate in such broad formations are accused of "liquidationism". This was a term used by Lenin to refer to the policy of certain members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party who wished to dissolve ("liquidate") the RSDLP after the crushing of the 1905 revolution.

John Bellamy Foster: The great financial crisis: causes and consequences

A November 3, 2008, public lecture by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, which will published by Monthly Review Press in January 2009. See also ``Financial implosion and stagnation: Back to the real economy'' , by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff.

The `third slump' and its consequences

By Phil Hearse

November 30, 2008 -- Ernest Mandel called the market crash and global recession of 1974-5 the ``second slump'' (1) – the first one being of course that of the 1930s, initiated by the stockmarket crash of 1929. We now know that the crash of 2008-9 is more severe, and will have more devastating consequences than that in the 1970s; whether it will be as bad as the 1930s slump we have yet to see. But it is now clear that this is a fundamental crisis of the neoliberal ``mode of regulation'' which now is under severe pressure and probably cannot survive in its present form.

Theorists who in this period stress the relative stability and continuity of modern capitalism are, as we shall see, way off the mark. This article aims to give a brief explanation of why the crash has happened; to situate it in the history of development of capitalism; to discuss possible consequences, especially those for the working class in Britain and internationally; and to suggest political implications for the radical left.

Audio: David Harvey on the `Enigma of capital' and the current capitalist economic crisis

A lecture by Professor David Harvey
City University of New York Graduate Center
November 14, 2008
1 hour 2 minutes

Listen now:

Open this page in a new page, or download MP3 file (42.7 MB)

(To download on a PC right-click on the above file and click ‘Save as’ or ‘Download to’. On a Mac Control-click instead of right-click.)

Rifts and shifts and Marx -- Getting to the root of environmental crises

http://www.deviantart.com/print/1778668/?utm_source=deviantart&utm_medium=deviationpage&utm_campaign=buyprintbottom

By Brett Clark and Richard York

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

Humans depend on functioning ecosystems to sustain themselves and their actions affect those same ecosystems. As a result, there is a necessary “metabolic interaction” between humans and the earth, which influences both natural and social history. Increasingly, the state of nature is being defined by the operations of the capitalist system, as anthropogenic forces are altering the global environment on a scale that is unprecedented.

Nationalisation — a key demand in the socialist program

By Dave Holmes

For all the misery it represents for ordinary people, there is at least one positive result of the current capitalist financial crisis. The idea of nationalisation is getting an airing again in the West, however squeamish bourgeois leaders and pundits may be about using the actual word. Of course, this is clearly a case of governments mobilising massive resources and taking drastic action to save bankers and speculators from the consequences of their greed but, nevertheless, there it is. And if nationalisation — state or public ownership — is allowable in this dubious instance, why not for far more deserving and urgent causes such as saving the planet and the lives and welfare of masses of working people?

The question of nationalisation is important because it is simply impossible to conceive of addressing a whole series of key problems facing us today without a major expansion of the public sector and bringing the “commanding heights” of the economy under state ownership and control. First, of course, there is the overriding issue of climate change and all the things related to that — especially energy and water sustainability, food security and the preservation of workers’ jobs as the economy is restructured. Then there is the struggle to preserve workers’ jobs and livelihoods in the face of widespread downsizing during the economic downturn.

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