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Marxist theory

Michael Lebowitz: The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

The following is the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Society for Socialist Studies, Vancouver, June 5, 2008. It was originally titled ``Building socialism for the 21st century''. To hear an audio recording of the speech, click HERE.

By Michael A. Lebowitz

A spectre is haunting capitalism. It is the spectre of socialism for the 21st century. Increasingly, the characteristics of this spectre are becoming clear, and we are able to see enough to understand what it is not. The only thing that is not clear at this point is whether the spectre is real – i.e., whether it is actually an earthly presence.

Friedrich Engels: the Che Guevara of his day

Review by Alex Miller

Engels: A Revolutionary Life

By John Green

Artery Publications

Paperback 2008

347 pages, £10

Most people know that Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) was the lifelong friend and collaborator of Karl Marx, and for most people the image of Engels that springs most readily to mind is of a heavily bearded, earnest old Victorian gentleman (most likely standing in the background of a group consisting of Marx and his family).

Bolivia's vice-president on the course of revolution

By Álvaro García Linera, vice-president of Bolivia

Translation, notes and introduction by Richard Fidler

The following article, based on a speech given in December 2007 but only recently transcribed and published in Spanish by Bolpress on May 12, 2008, is an important statement by a leading member of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ government on the political situation in that country in the wake of the Constituent Assembly’s vote on a draft political constitution. The draft constitution is to be put to a popular vote for adoption later this year.

Álvaro García Linera, Bolivia’s vice-president, is a former leader of the Tupac Katarí guerrilla army. He was subsequently employed as a university sociologist. He is also a prominent Latin American Marxist, strongly influenced by post-World War II European non-Stalinist Marxist currents inspired by the ideas of the Italian communist leader and political theorist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci, who died in 1937, was an innovative Marxist thinker who wrote extensively on the concept of cultural hegemony and its role as an ideological mainstay of capitalist societies.

From Marx to Morales: Indigenous socialism and the Latin Americanisation of Marxism

By John Riddell

June 16, 2008 -- Over the past decade, a new rise of mass struggles in Latin America has sparked an encounter between revolutionists of that region and many of those based in the imperialist countries. In many of these struggles, as in Bolivia under the presidency of Evo Morales, Indigenous peoples are in the lead.

Latin American revolutionists are enriching Marxism in the field of theory as well as of action. This article offers some introductory comments indicating ways in which their ideas are linking up with and drawing attention to important but little-known aspects of Marxist thought.

Che Guevara's final verdict on the Soviet economy

By John Riddell

June 8, 2008 -- One of the most important developments in Cuban Marxism in recent years has been increased attention to the writings of Ernesto Che Guevara on the economics and politics of the transition to socialism.

A milestone in this process was the publication in 2006 by Ocean Press and Cuba's Centro de Estudios Che Guevara of Apuntes criticos a la economía política [Critical Notes on Political Economy], a collection of Che's writings from the years 1962 to 1965, many of them previously unpublished. The book includes a lengthy excerpt from a letter to Fidel Castro, entitled ``Some Thoughts on the Transition to Socialism''. In it, in extremely condensed comments, Che presented his views on economic development in the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1965, the Soviet economy stood at the end of a period of rapid growth that had brought improvements to the still very low living standards of working people. Soviet prestige had been enhanced by engineering successes in defence production and space exploration. Most Western observers then considered that it showed more dynamism than its US counterpart.

At that time, almost the entire Soviet productive economy was owned by the state. It was managed by a privileged bureaucracy that consolidated its control in the 1920s under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Managers were rewarded on the basis of fulfilling production norms laid down from above; workers were commonly paid by the piece.

Some more comments on Peter Taaffe's Cuba book

[This article first appeared in the Democratic Socialist Party's internal discussion bulletin The Activist - Volume 10, Number 9, October 2000.]

 

By Doug Lorimer

Last year I wrote a letter to Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, responding to his request for our leadership's disagreements with the Committee for a Workers' International's view of Cuba. The letter took the form of an extended polemic against Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW) general secretary Peter Taaffe's 1982 pamphlet Cuba: Analysis of the Revolution. The letter was subsequently printed in The Activist for the information of DSP members. In June this year [2000] the CWI published a book by Peter Taaffe replying to my letter to Comrade Tariq entitled Cuba: Socialism and Democracy.

The Cuban Revolution and its leadership: A criticism of Peter Taaffe's pamphlet 'Cuba: Analysis of the Revolution'

The following article was written at the request of Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, as an initial contribution to a discussion between the LPP and the DSP on the character of the leadership of the Cuban socialist state and the Communist Party of Cuba. It was published in the Volume 9, Number 4, 1999, edition of The Activist, the Democratic Socialist Party's internal discussion bulletin.

By Doug Lorimer

Peter Taaffe's pamphlet on Cuba (first published in 1978 and reprinted in 1982) consists of three articles taken from the paper of the British Militant organisation (now called the Socialist Party), of which he was, and still is, general secretary. The first article presents an analysis of the revolutionary struggle in Cuba up to the expropriation of capitalist property and the establishment of a planned economy. The second article analyses the character of the group which led the Cuban socialist revolution, the central conclusion of which is indicated by the article's title: "Power in the Hands of [a] Bureaucratic Elite". The third article is an attempt to substantiate this view in the light of the foreign and domestic policies of this leadership group.

The basic conclusion of the pamphlet is set out at the end of the third article:

Michael A. Lebowitz: Socialism is the future -- Build it now

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses. This is true not only of ideas which can support revolutionary change. It is also true of those ideas which prevent change. An obvious example is the concept of TINA -- the idea that there is no alternative, no alternative to neoliberalism, no alternative to capitalism.

Certainly we know that there have been significant changes in the terrain upon which the working class must struggle -- changes which are a challenge because of a new international division of labour and because of the role of states in delivering a passive, docile working class to international capital. It is not only changing material circumstances which affects the working class, however. It is also the loss of confidence of the working class that makes these material changes a deadly blow. Even the Korean working class that has demonstrated so clearly in the past its militancy in the struggle against capital has been affected.

Three books on the life and thought of the `red terror doctor’

Reviews by Alex Miller

Karl Marx: A Biography
By David McLellan, Palgrave Macmillan
4th Edition 2006
487 pages, paperback

Individual versus social solutions to global warming

By Terry Townsend

A talk to the Climate Change Social Change Conference held in Sydney from April 11 to 13, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. For more articles, audio and video from the conference, click here.

April 13, 2008 -- I’m sure everybody here is aware of the basic facts of global warming and the likely consequences if rapid and serious action is not taken. There is virtually unanimous agreement among scientists and activists, and increasingly among millions of ordinary people, about the degree of the problem and the time frame we have to make fundamental changes to address it.

John Bellamy Foster on the global financial crisis

‘Nobody knows where the toxic debt is buried and how much there is’

John Bellamy Foster is editor of the Monthly Review, a prominent political journal established by the Marxist economist Paul Sweezy in the 1940s.

Foster is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, USA. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as an environmental socialist.

He has proven that Karl Marx was a radical ecologist in his book, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature.

Foster is interviewed by Peter Boyle for Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly. It was conducted during the Climate Change Social Change conference in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

The written version of the interview is available at Green Left Weekly.

Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four: Critiques of Stalinism `from the left’?

Review by Alex Miller

This essay is the result of a re-reading of George Orwell’s two most famous novels. Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four have acquired the status of textbooks, and are routinely used in schools to demonstrate to children the inherent dangers of social revolution. It is time for a reappraisal.

The ``Centenary Edition’’ of George Orwell’s Animal Farm contains a preface written by Orwell for the first edition (Secker and Warburg, 1945) but never published, together with a preface that he wrote specially for a translation for displaced Ukrainians living under British and US administration after World War II.

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Michael A. Lebowitz: La jornada laboral capitalista y la jornada laboral socialista

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Translation by J. Duckworth]

A medida que el primero de mayo se acerca, vale la pena recordar cuatro aspectos sobre ese día:

1. Para l@s trabajador@s el primero de mayo no es la celebración de un día feriado estatal, ni un regalo de él, sino que conmemorara es la lucha —desde abajo— de l@s trabajador@s.

2. Inicialmente, el primero de mayo se centraba en la lucha por una jornada laboral mas corta.

3. La lucha para una jornada laboral mas corta no es una lucha aislada sino la lucha contra la explotación capitalista.

4. La lucha contra la explotación capitalista es una parte esencial pero no es la única parte de la lucha general contra el capitalismo.

Hoy quiero exponer algunas ideas que se refieren tanto a la jornada laboral capitalista como a la socialista y espero que ellas puedan ser útiles en la lucha actual en Venezuela y que sirvan, de manera más inmediata, a los debates de hoy.

Michael A. Lebowitz: May Day -- The capitalist workday, the socialist workday

By Michael A. Lebowitz

April 24, 2008 -- As May Day approaches, there are four things that are worth remembering:

1. For workers, May Day does not celebrate a state holiday or gifts from the state but commemorates the struggle of workers from below.

2. The initial focus of May Day was a struggle for the shorter workday.

3. The struggle for the shorter workday is not an isolated struggle but is the struggle against capitalist exploitation.

Marxism and the environment -- John Bellamy Foster

Marxism and the environment was a workshop given by John Bellamy Foster to the Climate Change Social Change Conference, in Sydney on April 12, 2008. Foster is editor of Monthly Review (USA) and author of Marx's Ecology. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. For more audio and video of John Bellamy Foster on related topics, go to http://links.org.au/node/343


Audio: John Bellamy Foster on `Ecology, capitalism and socialism'

John Bellamy Foster's feature talk, recorded at the Climate Change Social Change Conference on April 12, 2008. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. Foster is editor of Monthly Review and author of Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature.

*NEW* Links Education for Socialists media player

A new addition to the Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal - website is the Education for Socialists media player. It provides a selection of audio discussions of Marxist theory, history and politics. Use the player below, click here to open it in a new window while you explore the rest of the Links site, or access it anytime from the navigation menu on the left of the home page.

 

Video: John Bellamy Foster on Capitalism and Climate Change

John Bellamy Foster, Marxist ecologist and editor of Monthly Review, addressed the Climate Change I Social Change Conference on ``Capitalism and Climate Change'', Sydney, April 11, 2008. Foster's talk was part of a panel discussing ``Climate change and its social roots''. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. Below is Foster's talk in five parts. Click here for an audio recording of all the speakers on the panel, which included Patrick Bond from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and editor of Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society. John Bellamy Foster discusses Marxism and the environment further here.

 

15 years since the murder of Chris Hani

On April 10, 1993, South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani was asassinated by right-wing extremists hoping to derail South Africa's transtion to democratic rule. On the 15th anniversary of his death, Links reproduces a speech by socialist and African National Congress (ANC) veteran Pallo Jordan delivered to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination.

***

By Dr Pallo Jordan

Allow me first to thank the leadership of the SACP and the central executive committee of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) for inviting me to deliver this inaugural Chris Hani Memorial Lecture. I consider it a great honour to have been chosen for this task because Comrade Chris was a close and very dear friend of mine.

Conference on the Work of Karl Marx and the Challenges of the 21st Century, Havana May 5-8, 2008

International Conference on the Work of Karl Marx and the Challenges of the 21st Century
Havana, Cuba, May 5th to 8th. Venue: Palacio de Convenciones

This conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution
which occurred on January 1, 1959.

These are times of special importance for the destiny of humanity, given the increase
in imperialist aggression and its confrontation with the resistance of peoples from
all corners of the globe, who are engaged in important struggles that involve transformative
socialist praxis. The Institute of Philosophy, through its "Permanent Workshop
for the Work of Karl Marx and the Challenges of the 21st Century" extends an
invitation to its fourth Conference. Its purpose is to provide a space for debates
the elaboration of proposals among social and political activists, scientists
and all those interested in the construction of the new world which is both necessary
and possible.

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