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Marxist theory

Five years after the economic meltdown: Riches for some, poverty for the rest

Last Man Standing and heavyweight champion of the world

Last man standing.

By Rupen Savoulian

October 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Antipodean Atheist -- Five years ago, in September 2008, the giant investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, filing for bankruptcy. This was the largest, but not the only, banking and investment firm to go under in that year, signalling the beginning of the ongoing capitalist economic crisis. Bear Sterns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, IndyMac and a host of financial institutions went bust, were taken over by the US federal government (yes, in the United States where private corporations are venerated, banks were nationalised) and returned to private ownership or continued in different forms.

John Bellamy Foster: The epochal crisis -- the combined capitalist economic and planetary ecological crises

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster

Parts of this argument on epochal crisis were presented in three overlapping keynote addresses in: (1) Esslingen, Germany on May 30, 2013, at a conference on Marxist thought organized by the Berlin Institute of Critical Theory (InkriT) and the Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch Des Marximus; (2) New York City on June 9, 2013, at the closing plenary of the Left Forum; and (3) Dublin on June 27, 2013, at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. The argument has been revised and updated based on the original notes for these talks.

Jonathan Sperber's new bio seeks to bury Karl Marx, not praise him

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

Click for more on Karl Marx and Marxist theory.

By Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Simon Butler: Marxism and the ecological revolution (audio)

Simon Butler.

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australian Socialist Alliance national executive member Simon Butler gave this speech, "Marxism and the ecological revolution", at the Marxism 2013 conference, which was held in Melbourne, Australia, over March 28-31. The conference was organised by Socialist Alternative.

In the talk Butler explores Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' much neglected insights into the anti-ecological dynamic of capitalism, a system based on the dual exploitation of labour and nature. He also discusses the relevance of Marx's ecology for meeting today's crises and makes an argument for why 21st century socialists should also be ecosocialists.

The role of the united-front tactic

Australian protest against the US war on Vietnam. Socialists argued for the movement to have as its central demand the call for the immediate withdrawal of US and Australian troops from Vietnam.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This talk was presented by Peter Boyle representing the then Democratic Socialist Party (since merged with the Socialist Alliance) to a workshop with comrades from the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia in 2000. It was based on a talk by Doug Lorimer to a Resistance leadership training school in Sydney on April 24-25, 1995. It was published in The Activist, volume 5, number 6, 1995. Doug Lorimer passed away on July 21, 2013. Read more of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.]

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The Great Rift: Capitalism and the metabolism of nature and production

August 7, 2013 -- MRZine -- John Bellamy Foster: We need a society that is geared, as István Mészáros always tells us, to substantive equality. And no compromise on the issue of equality. Bolívar said equality is the law of laws. So we need substantive equality and we need ecological sustainability. And they have to go together. How do we know they have to go together? Because what is causing the ecological damage and what is causing the social damage is the same thing: it's the rift in the production system; it's the alienation of nature, which is one with the alienation of human society.

Å bygge sosialisme for det tjueførste hundreåret: intervju med Michael A Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3355.]

Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.

– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?

- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?

Marxism and women's liberation: talks by Sharon Smith, Abbie Bakan (video and text)

July 12, 2013 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith's talks on why it is impossible to be a Marxist without also embracing feminism. It was presented to the International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 27-30.

Abbie Bakan is head of the department of gender studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a professor of political studies. Her research focuses on employment equity, Marxist theory and anti-oppression politics. Sharon Smith is author of Women and Socialism, Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States and the forthcoming Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation.

For more video and audio from the Socialism 2013 conference, go to Wearemany.org.

Freedom and socialism

"There is a great divide between what freedom means to the capitalists and workers. For capitalists it means freedom to exploit, how and whenever they please...For workers it can mean nothing less than liberation from the chains of poverty and oppression."

By Kyle Matzpen

May 27, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – By both its detractors and some of its supposed supporters, the name of socialism has been dragged through the mud. The word “socialism” is conjured up as a demon, a great dictatorial beast, bent on destroying all liberties and homogenising all differences. It is understood that under any system called socialism, the individual is reduced to nothing, while the state is risen on high to an omnipotent throne built on gulags, purges and secret police.

Building socialism for the 21st century: interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

Michael A. Lebowitz interviewed by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović

May 7, 2013 -- Left East,suggested to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Michael Lebowitz.

Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović: Capitalism has been in crisis for several years now and in response to this crisis the capitalist states practice  so-called austerity measures. If we look at the historical dynamics of capitalism in the last half century, we see that they responded to the crisis of the 1970s with what is now called “neoliberalism”. If the restoration of growth is what must be carried out as a response to the crisis, we can say that neoliberalism of the 1970s was successful. Yet, can we say same of present-day “austerity measures”?

Michael Lebowitz: 'Spectres and struggles' (video): a new vision for socialism in the 21st century

By Michael A. Lebowitz

May 3, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The above talk was presented in Zagreb, Croatia, at a conference organised by the Centre of Workers' Studies.(More videos are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/SkriptaTV?feature=watch.)

A spectre is haunting the working class of Europe (both east and west) and the working class of developed capitalism in general. That spectre is the spectre of communism. For the working class, that frightful hobgoblin is a society of little freedom, a society of workers without power (in the workplace or community) and a society where decisions are made at the top by a vanguard party which views itself as the sole repository of truth. Of course, this was not what communism meant for Karl Marx and Frederick Engels nor, indeed, for Lenin.

Michael Lebowitz: Primitive accumulation versus contested reproduction (video)

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Michael A. Lebowitz, Ljubljana

May 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we don't understand a system as it is fully developed [its "being"] and thus its critical characteristics, we cannot investigate the "becoming" of those characteristics.

This is why Marx discussed primitive (or original) accumulation of capital only at the end of volume 1 of Capital. Exclusive focus upon the emergence of the new elements, however, is not real history. "Becoming" is two sided: it is both a coming into being and a passing away. The concept of primitive accumulation explores only the former; it considers the new being born but not the old struggling to remain alive. It is, in short, one-sided. Not only does it fail to explore on its own the struggle of the old for its reproduction but it also does not consider the interaction, the morbid symptoms and dysfunction when two sets of productive relations are engaged in contested reproduction with respect to their control of the elements of production.

‘There are no recipes for socialism’: interview with Hugo Moldiz, Bolivian Marxist

Hugo Moldiz interviewed by Coral Wynter and Jim McIlroy

April 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Hugo Moldiz is a respected Marxist journalist and author living in La Paz. He has written several books, including Bolivia in the Times of Evo, published by Ocean Sur in 2009. He is editor of the weekly La Epoca and has also contributed many articles to the magazine America XXI. We interviewed him during a recent visit to La Paz, Bolivia. Translation from the Spanish by Coral Wynter.

* * *

What is the significance of the election of an Indigenous president in Bolivia?

21st century Marxists need to return to Marx’s ecological critique

By Simon Butler

March 23, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Do oil spills make good economic sense? A witness called by Canadian firm Enbridge Inc.— which wants approval to build a $6.5 billion pipeline linking Alberta’s tar sands with the Pacific coast — told a recent hearing in British Columbia (BC) that the answer is yes.

He said oil spills could benefit the economy, giving business new opportunities to make money cleaning it up. He told Fishers Union representatives that an oil spill in BC might indeed kill the local fishing industry, but their lost income would be replaced by compensation payouts and new career prospects, such as working for oil cleanup crews.

Upon reading this, some readers might protest: “That’s just not fair! How come British Columbian communities reap all the economic gains of a potential oil spill disaster, when we have to live in relative safety?”

It’s easy to laugh at this kind of thinking, to write it off as a desperate ploy by a greedy oil company.

Reducing production: How should socialists relate to struggles against capitalist growth

By Don Fitz

March 19, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The question is not should we advocate reducing production within capitalist society but rather: How do we best relate to those struggles that are already occurring? Activists across the globe are challenging the uncontrollable dynamic of economic expansion which threatens the survival of humanity. It has never been more urgent to provide a vision of a new society that can pull these efforts together.

Marxismo, feminismo y liberación de la mujer

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3210]

Por Sharon Smith, traducción para Sinpermiso.info por Lola Rivera

10/3/2013 -- Sinpermiso -- Inessa Armand, la primera dirigente del Departamento de la Mujer en la Revolución Rusa de 1917, hizo la siguiente observación: “Si la liberación de la mujer es impensable sin el comunismo, el comunismo es también impensable sin la liberación de la mujer”. Esta afirmación es un perfecto resumen de la relación entre la lucha por el socialismo y la lucha por la liberación de la mujer: no es posible una sin la otra.

'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'

The demand for shorter working hours with no loss in pay has been a key transitional demand.

By Doug Lorimer

[This is the introduction to Resistance Books' The Transitional Program and the Struggle for Socialism. For discussion on the left about the significance of the transitional method for socialists, see "In defence of the transitional method" by Dave Holmes.]

I

Marxism, feminism and women's liberation

Alexandra Kollontai, a leading member of the Bolshevik Party and one its leading theoreticians on women's oppression.

[See also "Why socialists need feminism". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.]

January 31, 2013 -- Sharon Smith, International Socialist Organization (USA) member and author of the soon-to-be-republished Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation, examines how some in the Marxist tradition have approached the struggle to end women's oppression, including its attitude toward other theories. This article is based on a talk given at the US ISO's Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago. It first appeared in the US Socialist Worker. It represents an important reassessment in the approach of an influential tendency within the international Marxist movement, those associated with or with their origins in the International Socialist Tendency.

* * *

In defence of the transitional method

Sue Bolton speaking at a rally for refugee rights in September. Photo by Aneleh Bulle. 

[See also "How socialists work to win mass support" and "'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'".]

By Dave Holmes

[This talk was presented on January 18, 2013 at the Socialist Alliance (Australia) national conference, held in Geelong.]

January 18, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance is currently engaged in a process of discussion and clarification with Socialist Alternative, with a view to exploring the possibilities of greater cooperation and unity. How this will ultimately develop is an open question. But I think it is fair to say that on both sides today there is a much greater interest in the political positions and approach of the other.

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