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Marxist theory

A Marxist critique of post-Marxists

By James Petras

Introduction

“Post-Marxism” has become a fashionable intellectual posture, with the triumph of neo-liberalism and the retreat of the working class. The space vacated by the reformist left [in Latin America] has in part been occupied by capitalist politicians and ideologues, technocrats and the traditional and fundamentalist churches (Pentecostals and the Vatican). In the past, this space was occupied by socialist, nationalist and populist politicians and church activists associated with the “theology of liberation”. The centre-left was very influential within the political regimes (at the top) or the less politicised popular classes (at the bottom). The vacant space of the radical left refers to the political intellectuals and politicised sectors of the trade unions and urban and rural social movements. It is among these groups that the conflict between Marxism and “post-Marxism” is most intense today.

Theses on the class nature of the People's Republic of China

This resolution was adopted by the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, held in Sydney, January 5-10, 1999.

I. Theoretical framework

1. For orthodox Marxists, as Lenin explained in his 1917 book The State and Revolution, the state is a centralised organisation of force separated from the community as a whole which enforces, through special bodies of armed people and other institutions of coercion, the will of one class, or an alliance of classes, upon the rest of society.

Socialists in the Australian women's liberation movement

By Margaret Allan

To understand the development of feminism in Australia, it is useful to briefly recap the political situation that gave rise not only to the women's liberation movement, but to the whole range of social movements that sprang up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

During the Second World War, women were drawn into many non-traditional areas of work, such as making ammunition and ships. These were much higher paid jobs than women were used to, and many women who did not previously work for pay experienced life as working mothers for the first time. There was some public child-care provision, and the ideology that women were incapable of metal work and similar trades conveniently disappeared as everyone was urged to “do their bit for the war effort and the boys at the front”.

When men began returning from the war in large numbers in 1945, women were forced to give up these jobs. It was the start of the “baby boom”: women were encouraged to have babies to repopulate. This was also the start of the economic boom of the 1950s.

Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution: A long and still relevant debate

By John Nebauer

Review of Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution: A Leninist critique, by Doug Lorimer, Resistance Books, Sydney, 1998, A$6.95.

John Nebauer is a member of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia.

After Lenin, Trotsky was the foremost leader of the Russian Revolution. His contributions to the international socialist movement and to Marxism were immense. Trotsky's leadership of the Military Revolutionary Committee in November 1917 helped ensure the victory of the Bolshevik uprising. His classic History of the Russian Revolution remains the best account of the events that led to and followed the demise of the Romanov dynasty. As the founder of the Red Army, Trotsky played a vital role in defending the revolution from the forces of reaction. Later, he led the opposition to Stalinist degeneration and provided a Marxist analysis of the bureaucratic regime.

Marxism or Bauerite nationalism?

By Doug Lorimer

Fatherland or Mother Earth? Essays on the National Question is a collection of essays written over the last 24 years by Michael Löwy, director of research in sociology at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris. The book was published under the auspices of the Amsterdam-based International Institute for Research and Education, founded by Ernest Mandel and other leaders of the Trotskyist Fourth International.

The uninterrupted revolution in the Philippines

By Reihana Mohideen

Reihana Mohideen was, at the time of writing, a member of the Executive Council of the SPP and of the Links Editorial Board.

Marx, Engels and Lenin on the national question

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for the newspaper Green Left Weekly.

A critique of Norm Dixon's article, 'Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question'

By Malik Miah

Malik Miah is a member of the Editorial Board of Links and of the US socialist organisation Solidarity.

In Links Number 13, Norm Dixon writes: "The struggle of oppressed nations for national liberation remains one of the most burning issues in the world today". And therefore "socialists need to understand the national question if they are to make sense of the world, provide leadership and correctly determine their attitude and response to many international events".

I wholeheartedly agree. However, Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question as first discussed by Marx and Engels in a period of rising capitalism and by Lenin in the age of imperialism. Dixon narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples.

Scottish independence and the struggle for socialism

By Alan McCombes

Alan McCombes is the editor of Scottish Socialist Voice, the newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party.

For socialists, internationalism has always been a sacred principle. "The workingmen have no country", declared the founders of scientific socialism 150 years ago.

In 1863, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels founded the International Workingmen's Association, the First International. The movement was created in recognition of the fact that the world was not a patchwork quilt of hermetically sealed national states, but a chain of interlinked nations in which major events in a single country could have continent-wide, and even worldwide, repercussions.

This world view was dramatically borne out by the events of 1917-1919, when the successful Bolshevik revolution immediately ignited a forest fire of mass revolutionary movements across Europe.

More recently, in the 1960s, the US ruling class expounded the "domino theory", and attempted to bomb Vietnam into oblivion for fear that "godless communism" would sweep through the whole of east Asia.

For a materialist analysis of national and racial oppression

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for Green Left Weekly.

In his critique of my article in Links Number 13, "Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question", Malik Miah (Links Number 14) charges that "Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question" and "narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples".

The purpose of my article was to reassert that the Marxist theory of the national question as it was developed by Marx, Engels and Lenin and definitively outlined in Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question is firmly based on a materialist, scientific analysis of what does and does not constitute a nation.

Another purpose of the article was to alert to the consequences that losing sight of this scientific socialist understanding of a nation can lead to at the least, ideological confusion, and, at worst, support for politically inappropriate, incorrect or even reactionary slogans and demands.

Women's liberation and the fight for socialism

By Lisa Macdonald

With the advent of the long economic downturn in the mid-1970s, capitalism launched the most concerted worldwide offensive against women's rights in 40 years. In the neo-colonial countries, women are bearing the brunt of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic structural adjustment programs, the rise of religious fundamentalism in many countries is pushing women back into the dark ages, and women are the largely invisible victims in the increasing number of localised wars over the ever shrinking resources not in the hands of the imperialists.

In the former Soviet bloc countries, as the restoration of capitalism removes most of the protections for workers that accompanied the planned economy, it is women who are thrown first onto the scrap heap as privatisation creates skyrocketing unemployment and public welfare spending is slashed.

And in the imperialist countries, the gap between average male and female earnings is widening again, abortion access is under attack, and the right wing's propaganda campaigns against the so-called special privileges of disadvantaged groups and for the strengthening of the traditional family are rapidly gaining ground.

The viability of Marxism

By Maria Luisa Fernández

Maria Luisa Fernández is the Cuban consul-general in Australia. This is the text of her opening address to the Marxism 2000 Conference in Sydney.

Dear friends: It is really an honour to have the opportunity of being here with all of you in this event. The study and understanding of Marxism are not easy. Many things have to be taken into account when those concepts are to be applied to any specific country, such as: history, culture, idiosyncrasies, economic development.

Cuba has a long history of wars of independence, of colonial and neo-colonial status, a school of revolutionary anti-imperialist thoughts whose leader was José Martí in the 19th century. Bearing in mind that we are far from being a perfect society, the Cuban revolution tried its best when applying Marxist concepts.

Karl Marx: Before all else a revolutionary

By David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on March 17, 1883, in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx's funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

 

In Defence of Lenin's Marxist Policy of a Two-Stage, Uninterrupted Revolution

By Doug Lorimer

Phil Hearse's polemic against my pamphlet proceeds from a fundamentally false assumption, i.e., that it "attempts [to give] a general strategic view" of revolution in "the semi-colonial and dependent semi-industrialised countries". He alleges that my pamphlet presents Lenin's policy of carrying out the proletarian revolution in semi-feudal Russia in two stages (a bourgeois democratic and then a socialist stage) "as a general schema for the 'Third World' today". Nowhere in the pamphlet do I make such a claim.

Permanent Revolution today

By Phil Hearse

In the fight for socialist renewal, international collaboration cannot be on the basis of total agreement on theory, strategy or tactics. All or some of the members of organisations the Democratic Socialist Party seeks collaboration with hold or tend towards the permanent revolution theory. These include the sections of the Fourth International, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Pakistani Labour Party, the NSSP in Sri Lanka, Solidarity

Either A 'Socialist Revolution Or A Make-Believe Revolution': A Rejoinder to Doug Lorimer

By Phil Hearse

"The International of Crime and Treason [i.e., the counter-revolutionary coordination of imperialism—PH] has in fact been organised. On the other hand, the indigenous bourgeoisies have lost all their capacity to oppose imperialism—if they ever had it—and they have become the last card in the pack. There are no other alternatives: either a socialist revolution or a make-believe revolution."—Ernesto Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental 1967 (emphasis added).

"You must struggle for the socialist revolution, struggle to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the socialist revolution!"—V.I. Lenin, "Speech at the Finland Station" on arrival back in Russia, April 1917

The Moro question

By Sonny Melencio

As Marxists, we support the right to self-determination of oppressed nations. This right applies to the democratic demand of the oppressed nation to determine its political relationship to the oppressor nation, which includes its right to secede and form a separate state.

It is in this sense that we uphold the right of the Moro people to self-determination.

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