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Marxist theory

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

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.

John Bellamy Foster: Ecology and the transition from capitalism to socialism

Walk Against Warming, Sydney, 2006.
Photo by Alex Bainbridge/Green Left Weekly

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, is a revised version of a keynote address delivered at the “Climate Change, Social Change” conference, Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Watch and listen to Bellamy Foster's presentation HERE. For more articles on Marxism and the ecology, click HERE.]

David Harvey: Reading Karl Marx's Capital

David Harvey has been teaching Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume I for nearly 40 years, and his video lectures are now available online at Harvey's website and above by clicking on the appropriate panels.

Harvey's course consists of 13 video lectures, a chapter by chapter reading of Capital, Volume I.

John Bellamy Foster: `Capitalism has reached its limits'

Postscript to "The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis"

By John Bellamy Foster

October 26, 2008 -- Six months ago the United States was already deep in a financial crisis -- the roots of which were explained in `The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis' (Monthly Review, April 2008). Yet, the conditions now are several orders of magnitude worse and are affecting the entire world.

We are clearly in the midst of one of the great crises in the history of capitalism. More than a mere financial panic, what is taking place is a major devaluation of capital of still undetermined dimensions. Marx explained that capital was invariably over-extended in a boom and that in the crisis that followed a part of that capital was devalued, enabling the rest to return to profitability and to the process of accumulation and expansion.

Hugo Blanco: `No contradiction between my indigenous struggle and dialectical materialism'

Interview with veteran Peruvian Marxist Hugo Blanco, conducted by Yásser Gómez for Mariátegui magazine, September 9, 2008. Translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

“The Self-organised Legislative Coup of the FTA [Free Trade Agreement], Indigenous Peoples and Social Movements” was the name of the national gathering of originario [indigenous] peoples, peasant communities and social movements that took place in Lima. There Mariátegui magazine interviewed Hugo Blanco, who in the 1970s led land takeovers in La Convención, Cusco, before the agrarian reform of Juan Velasco Alvarado was implemented. Today he continues in political combat from the trenches together with the peasantry, and as director of the newspaper Lucha Indigena (Indigenous Struggle).

What is your analysis of the Peruvian indigenous movement?

Fictitious capital and real compacts

By Anitra Nelson

October 15, 2008 -- Radical Notes -- Perhaps we need a Marxian to sort out the world's financial woes. The insights of Karl Marx on capitalist crises, especially speculation and financial crises, were sophisticated for his time. Indeed, this nineteenth century communist revolutionary called financial assets and loans 'fictitious capital' or 'imaginary wealth' as distinct from 'real capital' -- industrial or productive capital -- such as factories and commodity stocks.

John Bellamy Foster: Monopoly finance capital and the crisis

Interview with John Bellamy Foster for the Norwegian daily Klassekampen (posted from MRzine with permission), conducted on October 15, 2008.

Klassekampen: Is the credit crisis a symptom of overaccumulation of capital? It seems to me that investments worldwide, but especially in the United States, were funneled into the traditionally "safe" housing market following the bursting of the dotcom bubble. This overinvestment in turn generated a new bubble, thus causing today's havoc. Is this correct?

Free download: Marxist Economics -- A handbook of basic definitions

Download Marxist Economics -- A handbook of basic definitions (Resistance Books, 1998).

You can also purchase a hard copy, click HERE.


This handbook is not, of course, a substitute for the study of Marxist political economy, but an aid to that study. It will perhaps prove most useful as an aid to review. It was first developed for the Fourth International’s cadre school in Europe. It was subsequently also used by the Democratic Socialist Party in its cadre school. Along the way, many of the definitions and explanations were modified to take account of students’ difficulties or further questions.

It may be asked, however, whether there is any longer any purpose in the study of Marxist economics. Is not Marx’s analysis discredited by the collapse of the “communist” states of Europe and China’s somewhat slower but no less determined path in the direction of capitalism? Have not Marxist economics been superseded by Keynesianism, or monetarism, or neo-liberalism?

Ernest Mandel: An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory (1967)

An Introduction to
Marxist Economic Theory (1967)

By Ernest Mandel

From the Marxist Internet Archive and the Mandel Archive at
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

John Bellamy Foster: Can the financial crisis be reversed?

Interview with John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, for Página/12 (Argentina). This interview was first posted at MRzine on October 10, 2008, and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Página/12: What is your opinion about the decision of the US Treasury Department to consider taking ownership stakes in many United States banks? Do you think this is the right political-economic strategy? I mean, will it lead to the recovery of the system?

Richard D. Wolff: Capitalism hits the fan: a socialist solution

Richard Wolff is professor of economics at UMass Amherst. He talks about the underlying cause of the current capitalist crisis (NOT ``financial'' crisis) and capitalism in general. Socialism and workers' democracy is presented as the alternative. The talk was presented by the Association for Economic and Social Analysis and the journal Rethinking Marxism in early October 2008.

Videos on the Marxist theory of capitalism

These resources with notes are created by Brendan Cooney and are available at Kapitalism 101. This page was compiled by Dave Riley.

Updated with video and audio: The financial crisis: A socialist perspective

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October 4, 2008 (KPFA/Left Business Observer) Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin on the financial crisis, neoliberalism and the American empire -- the end of what, if anything, exactly? Listen HERE

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Real News Network interviews with Leo Panitch

October 10, 2008:

Engels: Introduction to Karl Marx’s Wage Labor and Capital -1891

By Friedrich Engels

This pamphlet first appeared in the form of a series of leading articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, beginning on April 4th, 1849. The text is made up of from lectures delivered by Marx before the German Workingmen’s Club of Brussels in 1847. The series was never completed. The promise “to be continued,” at the end of the editorial in Number 269 of the newspaper, remained unfulfilled in consequence of the precipitous events of that time: the invasion of Hungary by the Russians [Tsarist troops invaded Hungary in 1849 to keep the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty in power], and the uprisings in Dresden, Iserlohn, Elberfeld, the Palatinate, and in Baden [Spontaneous uprisings in Germany in May-July 1849, supporting the Imperial Constitution which were crushed in mid-July], which led to the suppression of the paper on May 19th, 1849. And among the papers left by Marx no manuscript of any continuation of these articles has been found.

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