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Marxist theory

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.

Back to good old Marx in the brave new world of globalisation

By Dipankar Bhattacharya

A decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is now an established fact that capitalism rules the roost in the world. The supremacy of capitalism as the dominant system does not face any immediate challenge. Yet the dominant voice of capitalism is no longer one of euphoria. The triumphalist cries of a few years ago are increasingly giving way to notes of caution and uncertainty. More and more people now realise that what collapsed with the demolition of the Berlin wall or the disintegration of the Soviet Union was not just Soviet-style socialism but also the edifice of what had come to be known as the welfare-state version of capitalism. The end of the Cold War period has come to signify the beginning of a new era of great uncertainties in which even good old capitalism looks increasingly unfamiliar.

Axes of Marxist internationalism

By Murray Smith

Murray Smith is an international officer of the Scottish Socialist Party and a leader of the International Socialist Movement, a Marxist current within it. This paper has been adopted by the ISM.

The fact that the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is not part of any international organisation makes it all the more important to have an international perspective. The three axes of the party's international work are participation in the movement against capitalist globalisation, solidarity with workers and oppressed peoples and developing the party's international links, in Europe and beyond. Just as the International Socialist Movement (ISM) has no interests other than those of the SSP, so it has no hidden international agenda. But as with other questions, the ISM has a specific role to play as a Marxist platform. In international terms this means not only playing an active role in developing all aspects of the party's international work. It also means deepening our analysis of international events and taking an active part in the debates that involve all those across the world who are working to build new parties and new international links.

The united front today

By Nick McKerrell

Nick McKerrell is a leading member of the International Socialist Movement platform in the Scottish Socialist Party. This article is reprinted from issue 8 of Frontline, the ISM's journal in the SSP.

CONTENTS

Regroupment and the socialist left today

By Alex Callinicos

Alex Callinicos is a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain. His most recent book is Against the Third Way: an anti-capitalist critique.

CONTENTS

The millennium was celebrated as marking the entry of the world into an epoch of capitalist prosperity and peace. In reality, the years that followed have been marked by the development of a global economic recession and by the most serious international crisis since the end of the Cold War. In counterpoint to these grim events has been the emergence since the Seattle protests in November 1999 of a worldwide movement in opposition to global capitalism and, increasingly, also to US imperialism's war drive. This has provided the context for a significant revival in Europe of what has come to be known as the radical left - parties to the left of mainstream social democracy. Among the most important developments are the success of Trotskyist candidates in the first round of the French presidential elections in April 2002, the shift leftwards by the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Italy, and the electoral challenge to New Labour mounted by the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in Britain.

Engels and the theory of the labour aristocracy

By Jonathan Strauss

I. The theory of the labour aristocracy

II. Marx and Engels on the labour aristocracy in 19th century England

Notes

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. The superprofits of monopoly capital support the benefits of a stratum of relatively privileged workers, whose interests in this are expressed by class-collaborationist politics. Marx and, especially, Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with Lenin, however, for whom it became "the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era".1

Many revolutionaries who claim Lenin as an influence nevertheless reject the theory. They deny the character of imperialism as monopoly capitalism, the existence of the labour aristocracy or the stability of opportunism. Their method mimics the empiricism of bourgeois economics, political science and sociology rather than following Marx and Engels' injunction to study history. Their acceptance of the results of this reflects the very often dominant position of opportunism in the working-class movement.

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