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Marxist theory

What happened to the gravediggers?

By John Rainford

December 3, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his survey of developments in Western Marxism from the time of the Russian Revolution, Perry Anderson sets out a number of questions for enquiry into the future of historical materialism. These questions, which range from the structure of bourgeois democracy and revolutionary strategy to the contemporary laws of motion of capitalism, are not directly taken up here. This paper focuses on how his precondition for their solution, “the rise of a mass revolutionary movement, free of organisational constraint, in the homelands of industrial capitalism”1 might be realised.

Anderson notes that almost all of the theorists of historical materialism, beginning with Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, have been intellectuals from the “possessing classes” – and indeed of higher rather than lower bourgeois origin. Antonio Gramsci, with an exceptional background of poverty, was nevertheless born at some distance from the working class.2 What follows is an attempt, in the Gramscian tradition, to test Anderson’s assertion that in the long run, the future of Marxist theory lies with theorists produced by the industrial working class.3

David Harvey addresses #OccupyLSX: The best system money can buy

November 12, 2011 -- Professor David Harvey addresses Occupy London Stock Exchange (#OccupyLSX) Tent City University about the global capitalist crisis and the Occupy movement. For more videos of talks at the Tent City University visit http://tentcityuniversity.occupylsx.org.

Political crisis in Italy and Greece: Karl Marx on ‘technical governments’

By Marcello Musto

November 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years Karl Marx has again been featuring in the world’s press because of his prescient insights into the cyclical and structural character of capitalist crises. Now there is another reason why he should be re-read in the light of Greece and Italy: the reappearance of the "technical government".

As a contributor to the New-York Tribune, one of the widest circulation dailies of his time, Marx observed the political and institutional developments that led to one of the first technical governments in history: the British cabinet of the Earl of Aberdeen, December 1852 to January 1855.

China: Marxism with capitalist characteristics?

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

Ian Parker reflects on a recent visit to China

November 9, 2011 -- Socialist Resistance -- Capitalism in China is rapidly uprooting and throwing into the marketplace all that seemed fixed and frozen since the revolution in 1949, but -- as with all other forms of capitalism -- this market is all but free. The bureaucracy holds in place systems of authority necessary for capital accumulation, and the Chinese state is a key player in the enrichment of a new bourgeoisie. There are particular political-economic and ideological conditions for this transition, of course, and one of the most important is the legacy of Maoism, and how the claim to be a socialist country is squared with the rapid abandonment of each and every tenet of socialism.

Is democracy the enemy? A reply to Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek addresses Occupy Wall Street.

By Louis Proyect

October 31, 2011 --  The Unrepentant Marxist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Although the content of Slavoj Žižek’s post in the London Review of Books blog ("Democracy is the enemy") is not so nearly as bad as the title, it still betrays the same kind of misunderstanding of the relationship between democracy and socialism that I addressed in my critique of “The Idea of Communism” conference held a couple of weeks ago in New York City [that featured Žižek:

John Bellamy Foster: Understanding the capitalist economic crisis

Understanding the Capitalist Economic Crisis. Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

At the October 2011 Climate Change Social Change Conference held in Melbourne, John Bellamy Foster, Marxist academic, Monthly Review editor and author on economics and ecology, spoke about the causes and consequences of the deepening capitalist economic crisis.

The conference was sponsored by the Office of Environmental Programs, Melbourne University, and organised and co-sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Resistance and the Socialist Alliance. Other co-sponsors included Friends of the Earth (Melbourne), the Labor Party Pakistan and Sydney University Political Economy Society.

How socialists work to win mass support

By Dave Holmes

[The following talk was presented at the Socialist Ideas Conference organised by the Australian Socialist Alliance and Resistance, Melbourne, September 3, 2011. It first appeared at Dave Holmes' Arguing for Socialism and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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Will the level of popular and working-class struggle rise significantly in the coming years? How can we overcome or neutralise the deadly effect of ruling-class propaganda on the minds of so many ordinary people? Can left-wing forces rally significant support and lead big struggles? How do we work towards this goal?

Bible sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons go door to door preaching their message. Their success depends on the scope of the effort: How many people can they mobilise and how many doors can they knock on? It also depends on the general level of social distress and alienation in society, on the number of people searching for solace and comfort.

Socialists obviously don't reject propaganda, we are putting it out all the time, but our strategy is — and must be if we are serious — fundamentally based on something else.

Socialism and religion

Presentation by Kamala Emanuel at the "Socialism and religion" seminar at the Perth Activist Centre, July 2, 2011. Hosted by the Socialist Alliance and Resistance.

How Clara Zetkin helps us understand Evo Morales

 

Clara Zetkin.

By John Riddell

September 18, 2011 -- First posted at johnriddell.wordpress.com, it appears at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Is Bolivia “a case of a workers’ government in the sense the early Comintern/Clara Zetkin meant it?” The question comes from Pham Binh in a comment at johnriddell.wordpress.com. In my view, the “workers’ government” concept is certainly relevant but must be used with caution.

My article “Clara Zetkin’s Struggle for the United Front” states:

Why Karl Marx was right

By Lee Sustar

September 13, 2011 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Economist Nouriel Roubini, whose predictions of the financial crash of 2008 earned him the nickname "Dr Doom", has referred his patients to a specialist in capitalist crisis: Dr Karl Marx.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Roubini said:

Karl Marx had it right. At some point, capitalism can destroy itself. You cannot keep on shifting income from labor to capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That's what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They're not working. The individual can be rational. The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else's income and consumption. That's why it's a self-destructive process.

For several hours on August 12, the Journal website ran the video of the interview as a top story, under the headline, "Roubini: Marx was Right".

Foundations of an ecosocialist strategy

September 1, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the translator and of Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme -- The following article by a leading European ecosocialist, Daniel Tanuro, was written especially for the latest issue of the Montréal-based journal Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme (NCS), which features a number of articles on the ecological crisis (not yet on-line). Tanuro is the author of an important book-length Marxist critique of “Green capitalism", L’impossible capitalisme vert, soon to be published in English. Other articles by Daniel Tanuro, in both French and English, may be found at Europe solidaire sans frontières. I have translated the French text of this article as published by NCS. – Richard Fidler

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By Daniel Tanuro, translated by Richard Fidler

John Bellamy Foster: The ecology of Marxian political economy

[This article is an extended version of a talk delivered at the Marxism 2011 Conference, University College of London, July 3, 2011. Click HERE to view a video of that talk. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to consider subscribing to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.]

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By John Bellamy Foster

Marxism and ecology (video): John Bellamy Foster at Marxism 2011


John Bellamy Foster addresses the British SWP's Marxism 2011, July 3, 2011.

For an extended text version of the talk delivered at the Marxism 2011 Conference, University College of London, July 3, 2011, click HERE. John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.

Keynote speech by John Bellamy Foster: "Capitalist crises, ecology and socialism"

Friday, September 30, 2011, 7.30-9.30 pm,

Sidney Myer Asia Centre (http://maps.unimelb.edu.au/parkville/building/158), Melbourne University.

Marxism has an ecological heart

Credit: Galen Johnson/Canadian Dimension.

By Ash Pemberton

August 13, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- We all know there’s a big problem with the environment and it needs drastic action to fix it. So does a Marxist analysis of the problem bring anything new to the table?

Marxism redefines the terms of the mainstream environmental debate. Instead of seeing the problem as one of humans versus nature, the problem is framed as one where humans and nature are intrinsically linked and ecological crises arise in which the relationship between the two is thrown into imbalance.

I think a Marxist analysis best describes the connection between human society and the rest of nature in a historical perspective. From this we can better understand the current crises and humanity’s task for the foreseeable future.

Capitalism

First, a few things to keep in mind about capitalism. Under the laws of the capitalist system, profits must continually expand or the system will collapse. This expansion has taken new forms over history, involving different combinations of exploitation of people, the environment and a fair share of economic trickery and speculation.

On the meaning of ‘popular front’

The Bolivarian movement led by Hugo Chávez contains bourgeois forces and has been the scene of repeated struggles between popular and bureaucratic wings. But far from subordinating workers to bourgeois leadership, it has served as the instrument to mobilise the masses in struggles that have won significant gains.

By John Riddell

August 8, 2011 -- also availabe at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- In a comment posted July 16 to my article “Honduras Accord: A Gain for Ottawa?” Todd Gordon warns against the danger of “popular-front style organization” and a “popular front electoralist strategy” (see his comment below this article). Socialists often use the term “popular front” or “people’s front” as a form of condemnation. But what exactly does the term mean, and how does apply it to poor, oppressed countries like Honduras?

Fred Magdoff & John Bellamy Foster: 'What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism' (exclusive excerpt)

August 1, 2011 -- Monthly Review Press has kindly given permission to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish "The growth imperative of capitalism", an exclusive excerpt from Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster's just released What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

John Bellamy Foster will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.

Nationality’s role in social liberation: the Soviet legacy

Painting slogans for the Congress of the Peoples of the East, September 1920, Baku. Photo from IISG.

By John Riddell

July 21, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Just under a century ago, the newly founded Soviet republic embarked on the world’s first concerted attempt to unite diverse nations in a federation that acknowledged the right to self-determination and encouraged the development of national culture, consciousness and governmental structures. Previous major national-democratic revolutions – in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United States – had been made in the name of a hegemonic nation and had assimilated, marginalised or crushed rival nationalities. The early Soviet regime, by contrast, sought to encourage, rather than deny, internal national distinctiveness.

Paul Le Blanc: Marxism and organisation

By Paul Le Blanc

This presentation was given at the Chicago educational conference of the US International Socialist Organization, Socialism 2011, on the July 2-3, 2011, weekend. The text first appeared at Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

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It is always worth examining the question of Marxism and organisation because, if we would like to be organised Marxists who effectively struggle for socialism, we have a responsibility to know what we are about -- and such knowledge is deepened by ongoing examination. There are scholarly reasons for going over such ground, but for activists the primary purpose is to improve our ability to help change the world. There are three basic ideas to be elaborated on here: 1) there must be a coming together of socialism and the working class if either is to have a positive future; 2) those of us who think like that need to work together hard and effectively -- which means we need to be part of a serious organisation; and 3) socialist organisations must be a democratic/disciplined force in actual workers’ struggles -- that is the path to socialism. In what follows I will elaborate on this.

R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

Is the economic crisis over?

Introduction by Mike Treen

May 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is the latest entry from the Critique of Crisis Theory blog by Sam Williams [posted here with Williams' permission]. In it he analyses the current stage of the industrial cycle and asks, “Is the economic crisis over?”.

I hope that reading this post will encourage people to look more closely at the entire series on Critique of Crisis Theory, which has taken the form of a developing book on crisis theory.

The first chapter explains the biggest challenge the author faced — the fact that Marx did not leave a completed crisis theory. It was certainly the plan when Marx began Capital, but in the end only one volume was completed before his death and volumes two and three only took partial steps to a completed theory.

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