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Marxist theory

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.

`Lenin and workers' control', by Didier Limon (1967)

May Day in St Petersburg, 1917.

By Didier Limon, translated, edited and introduced by Keith Rosenthal

December 22, 2010 -- This phenomenal, historical and analytical study by Didier Limon -- which first appeared in Autogestion: études, débats, documents, cahier no. 4, pp. 65-111 (Paris, December 1967) -- has, until now, not been translated into English. This is a shame on many levels for it stands nearly peerless in its meticulous treatment of the specific subject it takes up. That is, the debates and discussions surrounding the implementation of workers’ control of production within the first months after the October revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Video: 'The Invention of the White Race', by Theodore W. Allen

Theodore W. Allen, author of the two-volume history The Invention of the White Race (Verso:1994, 1997), died on January 19, 2005. The books trace the origins of "white" as a racist invention in early American history. Above and below is rare video footage of Allen in his later years in an interview with Stella Winston for Brooklyn Cable.

Video: Socialist Alliance talk on the global financial crisis


Socialist Alliance member Barry Healy presents a talk to the Western Australian Socialist Alliance on the topic of the global financial crisis. It was given in October 2010.

The global financial crisis feels like it came out of thin air. The mainstream media talk of it as an aberration in the normal operations of capitalism. Politicians talk about "the recovery" as though the worst is already behind us.

Is any of that true?

What if the GFC is just the latest in a series of bigger or smaller shocks that have dogged capitalism from its outset because there are inherent faults in the way the system operates? What if "the recovery" is as phoney as the weapons of mass destruction that justified the invasion of Iraq?

The crisis has not hit Australia as hard as other countries -- will that last?

To get to grips with these issues we need to take a long view of history and examine capitalism from its birth to what could be its death agony.

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker: `Cuba needs changes, to take us forward rather than backwards'

Cuban workers march on May Day 2009. Photo by Bill Hackwell/Havana Times.

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic reforms in Cuba, click HERE.]

Translator's introduction

January 15, 2011 -- Cuba's Socialist Renewal -- Alongside and intersecting with the grassroots debates on the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines and the informal debate, there is a rich discussion and debate taking place among Cuban intellectuals and academic specialists from a variety of disciplines and a spectrum of political perspectives within the broad camp of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban magazine Temas (Themes) is one publication that carries contributions to this debate among Cuba's revolutionary intelligentsia.

Wikileaks, Karl Marx and you

By Alistair Davidson

December 23, 2010 -- Liberty and Solidarity -- Despite blanket media coverage of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, there has been little discussion of the fact that Assange is merely one leader within a large and complicated social movement. The better analyses have found it interesting that the Swedish Pirate Party are aiding Wikileaks; some note links to the German Chaos Computer Club. But only “geeks” and “hackers” (technology workers) are aware that all of these organisations are members of the same movement.

This social movement, which has been termed the “free culture movement”, has a 30-year history. It incorporates elements reminiscent of earlier workers’ movements: elements of class struggle, political agitation and radical economics. The movement’s cadre, mainly technology workers, have been locked in conflict with the ruling class over the political and economic nature of information itself. As Wikileaks demonstrates, the outcome will have implications for all of us.

Capitalism and degrowth: An impossibility theorem

By John Bellamy Foster

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- In the opening paragraph to his 2009 book, Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen, the world’s foremost scientific authority on global warming, declared: “Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril…The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought.”1

China: An international dialogue on Marx

A trader in Lijang, China, selling images of Karl Marx. Photo by Malias.

By Norman Levine

January 4, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Organised by Marcello Musto of York University (Toronto, Canada), an international delegation of scholars from Canada (Marcello Musto and George Comninel), USA (Norman Levine), England (Terrell Carver), Japan (Hiroshi Uchida and Kenji Mori) and South Korea (Seongjin Jeong) participated in a two-week series of colloquiums and lectures in China. This delegation was invited and graciously hosted by Fudan University of Shanghai and Nanjing University (two of the top five universities in China), and by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and the Chinese Central Compilation and Translation Bureau (CCTB) of Beijing. The faculties and administration of each of these institutions partnered in these colloquiums, which also saw the participation of Chinese academics from 23 different universities (and, among them, of many deans and chairs of departments).

Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA2): Has another Marx been revealed?

France, 2010: 'Karl Marx is not dead.'

January 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Logos – The Russian journal Logos, one of the most important journals of philosophy in Russia, is publishing a special issue on Karl Marx in January 2011. It includes a translation of Marcello Musto’s “The Rediscovery of Karl Marx” and an extensive interview with Musto. Below is the English translation of the interview.

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Vesa Oittinen is professor at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland, and author of many books. Among these are: Spinozistische Dialektik (Peter Lang, 1994); Der Akt als Fundament des Bewusstseins? (Peter Lang 1996); Marx ja Venäjä (ed., Aleksanteri Papers, 2006); and Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) ja Marxin uudelleen löytäminen (ed. with Juha Koivisto, Vastapaino 2010).

Fred Magdoff: Creating an ecological civilisation

By Fred Magdoff

``It is inconceivable that capitalism itself will lead directly to an ecological civilization that provides the basic needs for all people. However, building an ecological civilization that is socially just will not automatically happen in post-capitalist societies. It will occur only through the concerted action and constant vigilance of an engaged population.''

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- Given the overwhelming harm being done to the world’s environment and to its people, it is essential today to consider how we might organize a truly ecological civilization—one that exists in harmony with natural systems—instead of trying to overwhelm and dominate nature. This is not just an ethical issue; it is essential for our survival as a species and the survival of many other species that we reverse the degradation of the earth’s life support systems that once provided dependable climate, clean air, clean water (fresh and ocean), bountiful oceans, and healthy and productive soils.

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