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Marxist theory

Australia: A response to Socialist Alternative on the Greens and class

Greens' leader Senator Bob Brown addresses a rally demanding action on climate change.

Ben Hillier replies at http://links.org.au/node/1959

By Nick Fredman

October 13, 2010 -- Ben Hillier’s article, “A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens” (available at http://www.marxistleftreview.org/) contains some useful information and analysis on the Australian Greens, a formation that has achieved a significant breakthrough in the recent federal election. Hillier is correct, generally, in writing of the Greens’ “populist left nationalism” and “middle class ideological basis”. But he over-emphasises the sociologically middle-class nature of the Greens’ voting base (and probably membership), as part of a general confusion on class today. In a related error, he is quite wrong, and quite sectarian, to state that the Greens “do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP” [Australian Labor Party].

Alex Callinicos on imperialism, two reviews

Review by Barry Healy

Imperialism and Global Political Economy
By Alex Callinicos
Polity, 2009
227 pages

October 2, 2010 -- The topic of “imperialism” greatly occupied the minds of late-19th and early-20th century socialists. Some of the tradition’s greatest minds toiled mightily to discern the fundamental changes in capitalism that were occurring before their eyes.

Capitalism, as analysed by Karl Marx, had grown fat in its European heartland through the ruthless exploitation of colonies and the brutal factory system in its coal dark cities. But suddenly new phenomena started to appear in the late 1800s.

Banking capital moved from being a support for industrial capital, first merging into and then dominating manufacturing. This agglomeration of money power created massive industrial complexes, like Germany’s famous Krupps steelworks.

The colossal scale of these industrial works dwarfed human beings.

Why Marxists oppose terrorism

[This is the slightly edited text of a talk presented to the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance educational conference in Sydney in January 2002. Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

I'd like to begin with a juxtaposition of two events — one which took place relatively recently and the other a long time before.

Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative and real human development

Prof. Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative from Dangerous Minds at Vimeo.

August 30, 2010 -- Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Venezuela-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class. His latest book is The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

Video: Antonio Gramsci -- Life of a revolutionary

By Paul D'Amato

June 18, 2010 -- A talk presented at the International Socialist Organization of the United States' Socialism 2010, in Chicago. This talk was first posted at Wearemany.org. Paul D'Amato is a leader of the ISO, publisher of Socialist Worker.

For more on Gramsci and his ideas, click HERE.

Karl Polanyi provides `a vital intellectual resource' for ecosocialists

To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity "labor power" cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting also the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity "man" attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed -- from Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation (1944)

The dissemination and reception of the `Grundrisse' -- a contribution to the history of Marxism

Karl Marx’s Grundrisse.

[The following article is a chapter from Karl Marx’s Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy 150 years later, edited by Marcello Musto. Published by Routledge, the paperback edition is just out. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Marcello Musto teaches at the Department of Political Science at York University, Toronto Canada. Fpr more details about the book and how to order, click HERE.

* * *

By Marcello Musto[1]

Is `de-growth' compatible with capitalism?

Photo by Twaize/Flickr.

By Alejandro Nadal

July 15, 2010 -- TripleCrisis -- A serious campaign in favour of “de-growth” has been going on for some time and has made important contributions. This movement has opened new avenues for debate and analysis on technology, credit, education and other important areas. It’s an effort that needs support and attention, and we must applaud their initiators and promoters for their boldness and dedication.

The debate on the rate of profit

By Michel Husson

July 2010 -- International Viewpoint -- A polemic on the rate of profit has developed over the last few months. This article seeks to review this debate which turns around four essential questions. [1]

The four questions are:

  1. an empirical question: what has been the evolution of the rate of profit since the early 1980s in the big capitalist countries?
  2. a theoretical question: what is the status of the tendential fall in the rate of profit in the Marxist analysis?
  3. a “semi-theoretical” question: what is the nature of the crisis?
  4. a programmatic question: what is the impact of this discussion on the proposals advanced in the period opened by the crisis?

The evolution of the rate of profit

John Bellamy Foster on Venezuela: Marxism and `vernacular revolutionary traditions'

The following article is the Foreward to the July-August 2010 issue of the US socialist magazine Monthly Review, which features Marta Harnecker's “Latin America and Twenty-First Century Socialism: Inventing to Avoid Mistakes". Bellamy Foster will be a feature speaker at the Climate Change Social Change conference, to be held in Melbourne, November 5-7, 2010.

* * *

I’m certain that this process is irreversible. This movement of change, of restructuring, of revolution, will not be stopped.

Hugo Chávez, 20021

By John Bellamy Foster

Video: David Harvey -- `The animated crisis of capitalism'

On April 26, 2010, Marxist geographer professor David Harvey spoke to the the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to explain how capitalism came to dominate the world and why it resulted in the current financial crisis. He asks: is it time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order? Above is the animated version of the longer speech he gave. You can view the original speech HERE.

Taking a long view of the current crisis, Harvey exposes the follies of the international financial system, looking closely at the nature of capitalism, how it works and why sometimes it doesn’t.

The socialist revolution and the mass revolutionary party

Lenin: "In its struggle for power the proletariat has no other weapon but organisation".

By Dave Holmes

Today humanity faces a global crisis stemming from the incredible rapacity of the capitalist system. In the first place, there is catastrophic climate change which threatens to end life on our planet, then there is endemic war and conflict, mass poverty in the Third World and neoliberalism's ever more ruthless assault on working people everywhere.

Capitalism will destroy the human race. It is absolutely clear that the bourgeoisie will continue to put the drive for corporate profit ahead of everything, even our own future as a species. It is incapable of changing. Even when it recognises the danger it cannot stop doing what it does. If capitalism is not overthrown, humanity is most likely doomed.

The only way out is the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by socialism. And the only means to do this is anti-imperialist revolutions in the Third World and proletarian socialist revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries.

Marxism, socialism & religion

By Dave Holmes

Despite the apparently secular nature of so much of modern life, religion is a long way from being a spent force. For revolutionary socialists aiming to mobilise the masses for a fundamental transformation of society, religion is a question which cannot be ignored.

1. While each country has its specific situation, in the West it is undeniable that the traditional religions are considerably diminished compared to even a few decades ago, with church attendances down and religious identification increasingly nominal for wide layers of the population. Moreover, the churches are being shaken by multiple and ongoing controversies and crises — over the role of women and gays, especially as priests; over revelations of past and present sexual abuse of women and children in their institutions; over financial scandals; in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, over damaging exposures of leading clergy flouting their own code of celibacy; over clashes between their conservative and more liberal wings; and over their increased integration into the activities of the state through government funding for charitable and welfare work.

Video: David Harvey -- `The crises of capitalism'

On April 26, 2010, Marxist geographer professor David Harvey spoke to the the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to explain how capitalism came to dominate the world and why it resulted in the current financial crisis. He asks: is it time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order?

Taking a long view of the current crisis, Professor Harvey exposes the follies of the international financial system, looking closely at the nature of capitalism, how it works and why sometimes it doesn’t.

Michael Lebowitz: `We must choose socialism over capitalist barbarism'

Michael Lebowitz was interviewed by Srećko Horvat during the Subversive Film Festival and conference on socialism, held from May 1 to May 25, 2010, in Zagreb, Croatia. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Michael Lebowitz's permission. [Click HERE to read more articles by Michael Lebowitz.]

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Srećko Horvat: In May, as a participant of the big international conference on Socialism, you are coming to a country which had an experience with the the Yugoslavian version of socialism in the last century. Could you explain why socialism in the 21st century?

Video: The Malthus myth: Population, poverty and climate change

May 30, 2010 -- Capitalism and Climate -- Most of what you've heard about Robert Malthus is wrong. He didn't predict a population explosion, and he didn't think we should control our population. His real goal was to convince people that society cannot be improved, that most people will always be poor. "The Malthus Myth: Population, Poverty and Climate Change" was a talk presented by Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism and a contributing editor of Socialist Voice, at Socialism 2010 in Toronto, May 22, 2010. Many thanks to Pance Stojkovski, who recorded this presentation and edited it for Socialist Project's LeftStreamed.

Debunking the `Menshevik myth': William Morris and revolutionary politics

The Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League, William Morris is fifth from the right in the second row.

By Graham Milner

With some great revolutionary figures in world history, and in international labour history in particular, it has been found necessary for historians or biographers to dig out their subjects from beneath "a load of calumny and oblivion", "a mountain of dead dogs".[1] With others, however, a different problem exists. Lenin pointed to this when he wrote that the ruling classes, following upon the deaths of great revolutionaries, often attempt -- after having met the ideas and actions of such men and women during their lifetimes with "furious hatred ... and slanders" -- to turn them into "harmless saints ... by way of `consolation' to the oppressed ... while at the same time emasculating and vulgarising the real essence of their revolutionary theories and blunting their revolutionary edge".[2]

Love and revolution

By Nick Southall

[The following speech was presented to the socialist youth group Resistance national conference dinner, held in Thirroul, Australia, on April 24, 2010.]

Tonight I will be looking at love as a form of power, a form of work and a form of wealth, as a need, desire, intention and action, and I will be locating our ability to transform social relations in political acts of love.

Capitalism poisons our lives with a concentration on consumption, materialism and competition, undermining loving relationships. Yet, alongside the system's violence, exploitation and oppression, there are continuing struggles about who has control over social relations, social cooperation and labour, over whether love is destroyed, suppressed, harnessed to strengthen capital or used to build and extend loving alternatives.

Audio: BBC In Our Time on Karl Marx

Marx

Listen now (45 minutes)

Available to listen.

Last broadcast on Thu, 14 Jul 2005, 21:30 on BBC Radio 4M

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