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Marxist theory

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.

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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

Download Daniel Bensaïd's `Revolutionary Strategy Today'

By Liam Mac Uaid

March 31, 2010 -- MacUaid -- The International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) is an Amsterdam-based centre providing activists and scholars around the world with opportunities for research and education. It is offering a imagefree download of the late Daniel Bensaïd’s Revolutionary Strategy Today.

Since the rise of capitalism, socialists have faced certain deep-seated obstacles: the hostility of the bourgeois state, the fitful curve of proletarian class-consciousness and the inertia or active opposition of apparatuses originally built by the workers for struggle.

China, capitalist accumulation and the world crisis

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

[A version of this article appeared in the South Korean journal, Marxism 21. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg’s permission.]

February 2010 -- The consensus among economists is that China’s post-1978 market reform policies have produced one of the world’s greatest economic success stories. Some believe that China is now capable of serving as an anchor for a new (non-US dominated) global economy. A few claim that the reform experience demonstrates the workability (and desirability) of market socialism. This paper is critical of these views.

United States: The rise of bagel capitalism

By Harry Targ

February 27, 2010 -- Diary of a Heartland Radical -- A long time ago Karl Marx theorised that in capitalist societies the class of people that own and control the means of production -- the machines, the factories, the workers -- constituted an economic ruling class. The only thing that workers owned was their ability to do work. The workers would sell their ability to do work for a wage. The capitalists would hire workers, work them hard, and sell the goods and services produced. The capitalists would sell the products and/or services for more than the workers would get paid. They would keep the difference and that is where profit came from.

Over time, Marx said, the number of capitalists would get smaller and smaller and what they owned and controlled would get bigger and bigger. Marx’s predictions pretty much have come to pass with a few hundred corporations and banks controlling about one-third of all that is produced on the face of the globe.

John Bellamy Foster on `Marx's Ecology' and `The Ecological Revolution'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Aleix Bombila

John Bellamy Foster is editor of the US socialist journal Monthly Review and author of Marx's Ecology and The Ecological Revolution. Aleix Bombila writes for En Lucha (Spain).This interview first appeared in English at MRZine.

En Lucha: In your book Marx's Ecology you argue that Marxism has a lot to offer to the ecologist movement. What kind of united work can be established between Marxists and ecologists?

Malaysia: Two-party system – and a ‘third force’?

Socialist Party of Malaysia MP Jeyakumar Devaraj addresses a rally against the free trade agreement between Malaysia and the United States.

By Jeyakumar Devaraj

February 11, 2010 -- Aliran Monthly -- Malaysia has only known one ruling coalition in the past 52 years since independence. But the result of the March 2008 election has led to rising hope among many Malaysians that an enormous change might be around the corner – a two-party system under which the people are free to choose between two coalitions, which are both capable of governing the country.

The purpose of this paper is to locate the institution of a two-coalition system against a wider historical perspective.

The concept that every person has an equal right to select the government irrespective of his or her social status, wealth, education, religious affiliation or beliefs is a revolutionary idea. And it is relatively new.

Slavoj Zizek’s failed encounter with Leninism

Click HERE for more on žižek.

By Paul Kellogg

The Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj žižek – most centrally in his Revolution At The Gates – has made it his business to reintroduce the Russian Marxist Vladimir Lenin to a new generation of activists. This in itself is a worthwhile project. Most believe that in building a new left we have to “leave the Leninist legacy behind” and greet any attempt to resurrect Lenin with “sarcastic laughter ... Doesn’t Lenin stand precisely for the failure to put Marxism into practice, for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the whole twentieth-century world politics, for the Real Socialist experiment which culminated in an economically inefficient dictatorship?”.[i]

Beyond `feminine’ and `masculine’

By Anna Ochkina, translated by Renfrey Clarke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

[Rabkor.ru published this reply by Anna Ochkina to a polemical article, “Masculine and Feminine”, by Dmitry Zhvaniya. Anna Ochkina is deputy director of Institute for Globalisation Studies and Social Movements (IGSO) and deputy editor of Levaya politika (Left Politics) journal. She is a sociologist based in Penza, where she teaches at the university. Dmitry Zhvaniya is a journalist, based in St. Petersburg and a founding member of Dvizheniye soprotivleniya imeni Petra Alekseyeva (the Piotr Alekseyev Resistance Movement). Zhvaniya's article "Muzhskoe i zhenskoe" ("Masculine and Feminine") is available (in Russian) at http://www.rabkor.ru/debate/3933.html.]

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John Bellamy Foster: The crisis of capital: economy, ecology and empire

From pdxjustice Media Productions on Vimeo.

Professor of sociology and editor of Monthly Review, John Bellamy Foster, talks about the triple crises in the economy, the environment, and the imperial wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond..

The relevance of Gramsci’s theory for today

By Peter Latham

January 3, 2010 -- I first read Gramsci in English over 40 years ago. Moreover, my thesis on Theories of the Labour Movement—a Marxist critique of non-Marxist theories of industrial relations—used Gramsci’s concept of the “organic” working class intellectual to explain twentieth century rank and file movements in the British building industry.[1] This paper is based on the Gramsci section in my forthcoming book on The State and Local Government.[2]

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