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Marxist theory

Audio: Capitalism and Climate Change -- Ian Angus

Left Click -- Ian Angus is the editor of climateandcapitalism.com and a founder of the Eco-socialist International Network. He is also associate editor of Canada's Socialist Voice and the director of the Socialist History Project. Ian toured Australia (Perth poster, left) in the run up to the World at a Crossroads conference held in Sydney on April 10-12, 2009, which was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective.

Fourth International: Draft report on climate change

By Daniel Tanuro

Below is a reworked version of the report on climate change and climate campaigns, drafted by Daniel Tanuro and presented at February 2009 meeting of the International Committee (IC) of the Fourth International. This report has been adopted as the basis of a resolution to be written for the coming Fourth International world congress. This first appeared on the International Viewpoint website.

I. THE CLIMATIC THREAT: CAUSES, RESPONSIBILITIES, SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS

1. Climate change is a fact without precedent

Climate change is a fact. In the 20th century, the average temperature of the surface of the Earth increased by 0.6°C, the sea level went up from between 10 and 20 cm, glaciers retreated almost everywhere in significant proportions, the violence of cyclones increased in the North Atlantic, and more extreme weather phenomena, such as storms, floods and droughts, were recorded.

Atilio Borón: From infinite war to infinite crisis

Atilio Borón (right) with friend.

By Atilio Borón[*], translated by Machetera, Scott Campbell, Christine Lewis Carroll and Manuel Talens

March 25, 2009 -- Machetera/Tlaxcala -- Some thoughts on the current capitalist crisis, its probable “solutions” and the role that a socialist option might play in the present juncture.

David Harvey: Their crisis, our challenge

Protest against home foreclosures, Oakland, March 12, 2009. Photo by David Bacon.

In a far reaching interview with Red Pepper, David Harvey argues that the current financial crisis and bank bail-outs could lead to a massive consolidation of the banking system and a return to capitalist ``business as usual'' -– unless there is sustained revolt and pressure for a dramatic redistribution and socialisation of wealth. David Harvey was interviewed by Marco Berlinguer and Hilary Wainwright. Transcribed by Kate Ferguson. This article first appeared in the April/May 2009 print edition of Red Pepper, and is posted with permission at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. It is posted in the interests of furthering left debate on how best to respond to the crisis. Links encourages readers to express their views in the ``Comments'' box at the conclusion of the article.

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Sydney, April 10-12, 2009: `World at a Crossroads' 21st century socialism conference day-by-day agenda

 

World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-12, Sydney

Venue: Sydney Girls High School

World At A Crossroads is a conference that brings together hundreds of socialists, progressive activists and Marxist thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops dealing with the urgent questions that confront us all: war, imperialism, food security, racism, workers' rights, sexism, the media and culture. Feature sessions and streams will include:

The economic crisis: Whose fault is it, and how can it be overcome?

By Aleksandr Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov, translated by Renfrey Clarke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

March 23, 2009 -- The period at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was notable for a whole range of developments. Two of them, however, seem to the authors to be not only closely interconnected, but also of symbolic importance: a genuinely profound economic crisis broke out, and along with it, sharply increased interest came to be shown in the works of Karl Marx.

Over many years, various Marxists spoke of the crisis of capitalism at such length that the great majority of analysts ceased to take them seriously. The situation thus recalled the old story of the shepherd boy who continually cried “Wolf! Wolf!” even though there was no wolf there.

But one day, the wolf actually appeared ...

Meanwhile serious Marxists, unlike the party-political propagandists of the Soviet era, began talking of the threat of a world financial crisis and of the possibility of its turning into a world economic crisis only relatively recently, around the turn of the 21st century. This was the point at which it became obvious that the gap between fictitious financial capital on the one hand, and human capacities and the requirements of material goods production on the other, had reached dangerous dimensions.

John Bellamy Foster on the economic and ecological crises: `The common denominator is capitalism'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly's Ruth Ratcliffe

A 20-minute interview recorded with a handheld cam in Oregon, USA, in February 2009. John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthy Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-author, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. Foster discusses the global economic crisis, its implications for the world and particularly the Australian economy. He also discusses the ecological crisis and the potential for revolutionary change.

Review: A materialist critique of pseudo-science

Review by Duroyan Fertl

Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present
By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark & Richard York
Monthly Review Press, 2008
240 pages

March 13, 2009 -- In recent decades a form of militant creationism — masquerading as science under the name of “Intelligent Design” — has gone on the offensive, promoting the teaching of biblical creationism in schools, and carrying out a broader “wedge strategy”, aimed at transforming the place and nature of science in society.

Critique of Intelligent Design: Materialism versus Creationism from Antiquity to the Present, is almost overdue in this respect. It traces the rise of the “design” phenomenon, and its relationship to conservative, right-wing politics, and places it in the context of a 2500-year-long debate between materialism and creationism that lies at the heart of Western civilisation.

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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