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Engels

Georgi Plekhanov and the roots of Soviet philosophy

 

 

By Jason Devine

 

January 11, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– Marxism was born through a critical appropriation of Hegel’s method and a radical break with the philosophy of Young Hegelianism.[1] With this, Marx declared that philosophy was over. As he wrote to Ferdinand Lassalle in regards to the Hegelian dialectic, “This dialectic is, to be sure, the ultimate word in philosophy and hence there is all the more need to divest it of the mystical aura given it by Hegel.”[2] Even more explicitly, Engels wrote in an early introduction to his Anti-Dühring: “The Hegelian system was the last and consummate form of philosophy, in so far as the latter is presented as a special science superior to every other. All philosophy collapsed with this system.”[3] Hence, any attempts to revive philosophy i.e. a specific form of ideology, could only be a step backwards from the advance made by Marx and Engels, could only ever be a reactionary project. If carried out within Marxism it can only mean a reversion back to pre-Marxist times, to pre-scientific views in the study of society. Dialectical materialism as the philosophy of Marxism is exactly such a reactionary turn. In fact, dialectical materialism, the ruling philosophy in the USSR, a philosophy which, in whole or in part, countless Marxist-Leninist parties, groups, and sects claim adherence to today, was essentially the product of Georgi Plekhanov. However, Plekhanov’s philosophy of dialectical materialism was not and is not synonymous with Marx’s method, with scientific socialism. Rather, the former can be more correctly described as neo-Young Hegelian.

 

What is socialism for the twenty-first century?

 

 

By Michael A. Lebowitz

 

October 11, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Monthly Review — Often the best way to begin to understand something is to consider what it is not. Socialism for the twenty-first century is not a society in which people sell their ability to work and are directed from above by others whose goal is profits rather than the satisfaction of human needs. It is not a society where the owners of the means of production benefit by dividing workers and communities in order to drive down wages and intensify work—i.e., gain by increasing exploitation. Socialism for the twenty-first century, in short, is not capitalism.

 

The Communist Manifesto: A weapon of war

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 16, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — With the exception of the Bible, no other work in history has been more praised and denounced, analyzed and criticized, both seriously and superficially, than the Communist Manifesto.

Engels as dickhead? Great novel, bad history

Mrs Engels
By Gavin McCrea
Melbourne: Scribe, 2015,
352 pages, A$29.99

Read more on the Marx household

Review by Barry Healy

August 13, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For those hankering to know what Friedrich Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you. “In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side”, says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story.

She goes on: “Its cover goes all the way over the bell and bunches at the end like a pastry twist. Before he does anything he spits on his hand and peels this back.” Engels is quite enamoured of his member, it seems.

Gavin McCrea’s Lizzie Burns is a brilliant narrative voice and his writing sparkles. Lizzie’s rich brogue and her incisive humour are wonderful.

Paul Le Blanc: Explorations in plain Marxism: revolutionary theory, practical action

"For many developing intellectually in the English-speaking world during the early 1960s, the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills (on his way to work above) was an incredibly important influence."

For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE. For more discussion of Marxist theory, click HERE.

By Paul Le Blanc

January 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The ideas of Karl Marx are often put forward as an invaluable resource for those wishing to understand the world in order to change it for the better. Yet various people who speak as Marxists often insist upon divergent ways of understanding even the most basic concepts associated with Marxism – such as capitalism and the working class.

‘Socialism or barbarism’: An important socialist slogan traced to its unexpected source

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg.

By Ian Angus

October 21, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I think I have solved a small puzzle in socialist history. Climate & Capitalism’s tagline, “Ecosocialism or barbarism: There is no third way”, is based on the slogan, “Socialism or Barbarism”, which Rosa Luxemburg raised to such great effect during World War I and the subsequent German revolution, and which has been adopted by many socialists since then.

The puzzle is: where did the concept come from? Luxemburg’s own account doesn’t hold water, and neither do the attempts of left-wing scholars to explain (or explain away) the confusion in her explanation.

Climate change: What would Frederick Engels say?

By Martin O'Beirne

September 30, 2013 -- The Ecosocialist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- We had not yet destabilised the climate and trounced other planetary ecological boundaries back in 1876 when Frederick Engels wrote these passages in his unfinished The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man. But it is clear that back then Engels had established a biophilous ethic, or in his words:

The senseless and unnatural idea of a contrast between mind and matter, man and nature, soul and body ... but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature ... [and] the more will men not only feel but also know their oneness with nature.

How Friedrich Engels’ radical lover Mary Burns helped him father socialism

Mary Burns’ younger sister, Lizzie, c.1865. Lizzie lived with Engels after her sister died, and married him a day before she herself died. No image of Mary is known to exist.

By Mike Dash

Talk on Gracchus Babeuf and the communist idea (audio)

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Doug Enaa Greene delivered this talk to the Revolutionary Students Union at the University of Utah on May 29, 2013. To read more about Gracchus Babeuf, see Greene's essay at: http://links.org.au/node/3228.

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.

Day of the people: Gracchus Babeuf and the communist idea

Doug Enaa Greene delivered the above talk to the Revolutionary Students Union at the University of Utah on May 29, 2013.

* * *

By Doug Enaa Greene

Dedicated to the Babouvists of today.

“We Communists, united in the Third International, consider ourselves the direct continuators of the heroic endeavors and martyrdom of a long line of revolutionary generations from Babeuf – to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.”[1]

The 'Marx party' -- Karl Marx's revolutionary household

Jenny and Karl Marx, 1869.

Love & Capital: Karl & Jenny Marx & the Birth of a Revolution
By Mary Gabriel,
Little, Brown & Company 2011
707 pages, $39.99

Review by Barry Healy

October 19, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The spectre of Karl Marx still haunts the capitalist world. Only 11 people attended his funeral in 1883 and the corporate press still loves to dance on his grave, constantly declaring that his ideas are irrelevant. Yet with every economic crisis all eyes return to Marx's masterpiece, Capital, to understand what is really going on in our economic system.

How did this extraordinary work get produced? What circumstances fed the creative process?

Through Mary Gabriel’s intimate biography we see that hardship ― unrelenting, heartbreaking miserable poverty ― was the physical context. But in greater measure, love and unstinting generosity of the spirit nurtured the flame of creativity and rebellion.

The author of The Communist Manifesto and Capital, Marx was hounded from country to country in Europe before settling in London to further his revolutionary work. With him every inch of the way, physically, intellectually and emotionally was his family.

Few lives have been lived as intensely as that of Karl Marx. And through this book the zeal that his entire family shared is honoured.

Paul Le Blanc: Occupy, insurgencies and human nature: Paul Mason and/or Karl Marx

[Click HERE for more articles by Paul Le Blanc; For more discussion on the Occupy movement, click HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

July 25, 2012 – ESSF, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Paul Le Blanc’s permission -- Paul Mason is one of the best journalists covering the global economy today. His book, Live Working, Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global, is an essential resource for anyone concerned about the workers’ struggle against oppression and for liberation in the past, present and future. I met him while I was in thick of Pittsburgh’s G20 protests, which he was covering for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). I had already read his splendid book (which I was using in one of my courses) – and his front-line television reportage of the protests and the realities generating them was outstanding.[1]

Paul Le Blanc: Why Occupy activists should read the greats of revolutionary socialism

[Read more from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on Lenin, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg.]

The New Left Project's Ed Lewis interviews Paul Le Blanc

March 6, 2012 -- Paul Le Blanc is professor of history and political science at La Roche College, Pittsburgh. He is the author of a number of books on revolutionary and radical politics, most recently Marx, Lenin and the Revolutionary Experience and Work and Struggle: Voices from U.S. Labor Radicalism. He spoke to Ed Lewis about the Get Political campaign, which aims to bring radical activists of today into critical engagement with the ideas of Lenin, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg.

Ed Lewis: What is the "Get Political" initiative?

An exchange on Marx and Engels and 'small is beautiful'

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.] 

By Samar Bagchi; response by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff

February 2012 -- Monthly Review -- I am a regular reader of Monthly Review. I read with interest the recent articles on ecology and Marxism (Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster, “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism,” MR, March 2010, and Fred Magdoff, “Ecological Civilization”, MR, January 2011).

It is true that Marx and Engels conceive that capitalism engenders a “metabolic rift” in nature and society. But both of them emphasise that the industrial growth that socialism would produce is beyond imagination under capitalism. Engels writes in Principles of Communism: “Once liberated from the pressure of private ownership, large-scale industry will develop on a scale that will make its present level of development seem as paltry as seems the manufacturing system compared with the large-scale industry of our time. This development of industry will provide society with a sufficient quantity of products to satisfy the needs of all.”

Derek Wall: 'Ecosocialism places Marx at the centre of its analysis'

September 10, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Economist, activist and writer Derek Wall (pictured above) is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales (and the Green Left grouping within it) and is the author of several books on ecology and politics. Wall will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne,r September 30 to October 3. He maintains the ecosocialist blog Another Green World. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the politics of ecosocialism.

* * *

What are the most valuable insights ecosocialists can bring to discussions about the source of our ecological problems?

Ecosocialism, without being reductionist, cuts to the roots of the ecological crisis. The destruction of the environment is not an accident. It is not simply a problem of false ideas and it is not a product of inappropriate policies that can easily be dealt with by electing a new set of politicians.

New books reveal Friedrich Engels’ revolutionary life

Engels: A Revolutionary Life, by John Green, Artery Publications, 2008.

Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Macmillan/Metropolitan, 2009. (First published in Britain as The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.)

Reviewed by Ian Angus

August 24, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Most people on the left know that Friedrich Engels was co-author of the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx’s lifelong collaborator. But few of today’s radicals know much more than that about the man who built barricades and fought a guerrilla war in Germany in the 1848-49 revolution, the indefatigable organiser who played a decisive role in building the Marxist current from a handful of exiles in the 1850s into the dominant trend in the international working-class movement by the time of his death in 1895.

They can scarcely be blamed for their lack of knowledge: it hasn’t been easy to learn about Engels’ life. In the 110 years after he died, only two substantial biographies were published in English – by Gustav Mayer in 1936 and by W.O. Henderson in 1967 – and both have long been out of print.

Friedrich Engels: the Che Guevara of his day

Review by Alex Miller

Engels: A Revolutionary Life

By John Green

Artery Publications

Paperback 2008

347 pages, £10

Most people know that Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) was the lifelong friend and collaborator of Karl Marx, and for most people the image of Engels that springs most readily to mind is of a heavily bearded, earnest old Victorian gentleman (most likely standing in the background of a group consisting of Marx and his family).

Marx, Engels and Lenin on the national question

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for the newspaper Green Left Weekly.

Engels and the theory of the labour aristocracy

By Jonathan Strauss

I. The theory of the labour aristocracy

II. Marx and Engels on the labour aristocracy in 19th century England

Notes

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. The superprofits of monopoly capital support the benefits of a stratum of relatively privileged workers, whose interests in this are expressed by class-collaborationist politics. Marx and, especially, Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with Lenin, however, for whom it became "the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era".1

Many revolutionaries who claim Lenin as an influence nevertheless reject the theory. They deny the character of imperialism as monopoly capitalism, the existence of the labour aristocracy or the stability of opportunism. Their method mimics the empiricism of bourgeois economics, political science and sociology rather than following Marx and Engels' injunction to study history. Their acceptance of the results of this reflects the very often dominant position of opportunism in the working-class movement.

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